Alexa Isn’t Political, But She Can Make Campaign Donations

Candidates can sign up for voice-enabled fundraising

amazon alexa device
Amazon is adding new functionality to Alexa leading up to the 2020 election.
Amazon

Starting Sept. 19, Amazon will allow the 20 or so main candidates in the 2020 presidential race to sign up for voice-enabled campaign donations. Then, at some point in October, Amazon customers will be able to say, “Alexa, donate to [candidate name]” to send their campaign up to $200.

The functionality is enabled by the Amazon Pay service, which uses the payment information in Amazon customers’ existing accounts to make donations.

In a blog post, Amazon said it is building on its experience in the 2018 midterm elections by adding more ways for Alexa to provide information, such as who is running, how the election process works, the timing of the next debate and candidates’ positions on major issues.

The post makes clear the platform is not taking sides—Amazon said it wants Alexa to be an objective source for information about the election and candidates.

“We federate across hundreds of information sources, and we collaborate with nonpartisan organizations to provide customers with information on polls, ballots, results and more,” according to Amazon.

Also: Alexa does not have opinions on politics or candidates, so don’t ask.

If you’re looking for an actual news organization to stay up to date, according to the post, Amazon allows users to “choose which news providers you prefer to watch, listen to and get live updates from [whenever possible].”

And, of course, as Amazon learns more about what customers want, it will “release features that address those requests.”

This, Amazon said, is a natural extension of existing customer behavior with Alexa, which includes questions that run the gamut from “sports scores and state capitals to nutrition facts and the latest current events.”

Sept. 19 also happens to be International Talk Like a Pirate Day. It remains unclear, however, whether Alexa can understand voice-enabled political donations in pirate speak.

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