Even with different rules in 50 states and hard-to-navigate government websites, technology has made it incredibly easy to register as a voter.
Take it from me: I’m a recent transplant to New York, and it took me under five minutes to register under my new address using a site called Voteplz.
Voteplz was cofounded by Sam Altman, the president of Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s biggest startup incubator. Altman started the nonpartisan nonprofit company just three weeks ago as a way to make the voting process frictionless and easier for young voters to understand.
The site makes the process simple: It asks for a few pieces of identifying information and then provides pre-filled, postage-free mailable PDFs that you can send on your own. Alternatively, it directs you to your state’s online voter registration site if you have a driver’s licence number handy.
In my case, I had to register as a New York voter after having moved from Massachusetts.
To register to vote in New York, you have to have a state-issued ID, like a driver’s licence or a New York ID (not to be confused with the New York City ID, which isn’t a valid ID). If you don’t have either of those, you can use a Social Security number to register.
Since I’m ID-less, I opted to use my Social Security number. The service pre-filled my address, name, date of birth, phone number, and party enrollment. To my relief, the site didn’t ask for my Social Security number — I imagine a server full of PDFs with ID numbers would be asking for trouble — but the site did instruct me to fill in my data after I printed out the registration form. And that was it.
The process took about 3 minutes since I had most of my info on my browser’s AutoFill.
I still had to mail the PDF on my own. It was just one extra step, and the clear language made it clear what I had to do after printing.
This isn’t the first site that streamlines the voter registration process. Earlier this year a developer released an app that could register you to vote in 30 seconds by scanning your driver’s licence or state ID.
But for the paranoid folks who’d rather do it through snail mail, Voteplz even makes the old-fashioned way easy.