October 25, 2018
With election day right around the corner, voters will soon be heading to the polls to select the candidates who best represent the issues they care about. Thanks to broadband connectivity, voters can make informed decisions armed with the knowledge gained by a swipe of a screen or tap of a mouse. After all, the internet is now—more than ever—the place where political news unfolds. From voter registration, issue education, to holding our policymakers accountable, citizens now look to their screens to inform their votes.
As of today 37 U.S. states and the District of Columbia offer online voter registration. We should strive for all 50, but it’s a significant step forward since the first state (Arizona) implemented a paperless voter registration system in 2002. Now, websites like Vote.Org and Rock the Vote are a one stop shop for citizens across the country to either register online or print a registration form at home.
Side note: When singer Taylor Swift encouraged her fans to register to vote on social media, 65,000 people registered within 24 hours. I guess she should have titled her album “Blue.”
The internet has seriously changed the game when it comes to getting informed on the issues. Where do you go for your weather report, or more importantly, your Senators’ voting record? It might not be Jeeves, but it probably starts with a G. If that applies to you, you’re not alone, because nearly half of Americans report that they primarily get their news online. Even the President of the United States has made social media a primary vehicle for communicating news with the American public. So much so, that it’s actually illegal for him to block users from seeing his posts.
Side note: This is a blessing and a curse, since the rise of mis- and disinformation online has led to a frenzy of fake news. Despite what some corners of the internet might say, the moon landing wasn’t faked.
Because of the internet, citizens have a closer reach to elected officials than ever before. Americans have organized around some of the largest rallies and protests in our history, all by getting the word out from behind their screens. Furthermore, social platforms are a new avenue for citizens to voice their support for issues whether they @ their Representatives, friends, or their favorite trade association.
Side note: There’s a difference between holding policymakers accountable and inappropriately harassing them online. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently endured online threats that led to the arrest of his harasser. Not okay!
It’s encouraging to see citizens taking to the streets AND to their screens to garner support for the important issues facing our country today, and share information on voter registration. So until the results are in, let’s use broadband to get out the vote on November 6!