Online Voter Registration May Make for Valuable Databases
OnlineDemocracy, which launched April 1, will not rent the list, said founder/CEO David Biddulph, but it will send out custom-designed e-mails to a select group of people based on age, gender and party affiliation. Only those who have agreed to receive e-mails will get messages. Of the 70,000 voters who have registered at the site, more than 23,000 have agreed to receive the e-mails, Biddulph said.
Online voter registration is available in 47 states. Voters who fill out these applications provide their name, address, gender, marital status and political affiliation, though the exact information varies from state to state. Once they've registered, individuals must print their completed application and then sign, date and mail it to their state's election office.
About one-half of the people registering through OnlineDemocracy are registering for the first time. The other half is registering because they've either moved or changed their name. "This happens all the time," Biddulph said. "We're establishing a long-term connection. And we're building our database."
OnlineDemocracy's e-mail service is intended to produce revenue for the company, but Biddulph believes it will also assist the democratic process.
"Last year only one in five of people [ages] 18 to 24 showed up on Election Day," he said. "Eighty-five percent of the world's democracies have a higher voter participation rate than the United States. My hope is that someone running for president will be able to communicate with people on a more personal and relevant basis.
"The Internet has the potential for increasing dialogue between people and their representatives. Our Web site is an empowerment tool," Biddulph said.