Amazon has updated their voice assistant Alexa with current information about the 2020 presidential election and candidates. The information is sourced from hundreds of different outlets, including nonpartisan organizations, to educate Alexa users on ballots, pools, and more. Amazon has chosen to make Alexa non-partisan itself, only providing objective information on the election, candidates and policies, according to a blog post from Amazon written by the Day One Staff. The staff continued,
“When it comes to news, Alexa is a conduit, not a news creator. Whenever possible we let you choose which news providers you prefer to watch, listen to, and get live updates from.”
The update also allows users to make campaign contributions via Alexa. Any candidate can sign up to receive contributions through Alexa. Contributions can be up to $200 and are powered by Amazon Pay using the payment information from users’ Amazon accounts.
To utilize this update, users can say to Alexa:
- Alexa, when is the Iowa caucus?
- Alexa, when is the next debate?
- Alexa how does Bernie Sanders stand on Education?
- Alexa, how is Elizabeth Warren polling?
- Alexa, who is running for president?
Amazon Updated After 2018 Midterm Elections
About a year ago during the 2018 midterm elections, Amazon updated Alexa with relevant election information, as there were a rise in customer engagement with the 2016 presidential election. The update focused on voting, real-time election results as well as post-election outcomes.
With the amount of fake news that surrounded the 2016 election, Amazon assembled a “war room” of engineers, writers and data scientists to make sure that Alexa was providing only accurate and objective information. They partnered with the Associated Press, a non-profit independent news cooperative, along with Ballotpedia, a nonpartisan encyclopedia of American politics. However, Amazon has avoided updating Alexa with voter ID laws or which voting machines will be used in different areas, as the company claims fewer users are asking these questions.