This month, in anticipation of the upcoming mid-term elections, the Washington, DC-based AARP launches, “Raise Your Voice,” the nation’s first comprehensive advocacy and voting app for smart speakers. The nonprofit’s specially designed app to assist persons over age 50 use their smart speakers to engage in advocacy on key aging issues including Social Security, Medicare, prescription drugs, Medicaid and caregiving – as well as in nonpartisan voter education and support. AARPs app works on Amazon Alexa and Google Home.
“This groundbreaking skill empowers voters at a time when people are looking for trustworthy, accessible sources of information,” said John Hishta, AARP Senior Vice President of Campaigns, in a statement announcing the new app. “AARP is setting a new standard for effective, technology-enabled advocacy nationally and in voters’ home states. Making your voice heard is now as easy as turning to your smart speaker,” says Hista.
According to AARP’s release, today there is 54 million smart speakers in the United States. (Bret Kinsella, Voicebot.al, Oct. 30, 2018) With a 48 percent annual growth rate, by the end 2018 this number is expected to grow to more than 90 million Americans who will use their smart speaker at least once a month (Jasime Enberg, eMarketer May 29, 2018). Americans 50 and over account for about a quarter of owners, according to Edison Research an NPR (Bret Kinsella, Voicebot.al, July 18, 2018).
Invoking Your AARP’s App
Just give the smart speaker’s wake command, followed by “Open Raise Your Voice,” to invoke the app. Beginning October 18, the user can direct “Raise Your Voice” to look up polling information and send it directly to the user’s cell phone. Similarly, the user can command the AARP app to provide information on of the nonprofit’s key issues and receive detailed information via text. The development team is currently building out a contact-your-representative feature and additional issue areas.
“Traditional voter education is laudable and important work, but it’s a leap forward to develop technology that better supports voters as they seek out the location of their polling place, information on key issues, and the ability to contact their elected officials,” said Sami Hassanyeh, AARP Senior Vice President of Digital Strategy and Membership in a statement. “We pushed the boundaries of current technologies because we believe in the value of civic engagement and want to use the latest technology in service of it. A year ago, we began offering a voice-enabled news briefing, so it was only natural to move from providing information to a deeper level of engagement,” says Hassanyeh.
Key Aging Programs are at Stake This Election
This month, the AARP Bulletin Special gives its 38 million readers a special report as to Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, retirement savings plans and other key aging programs could be impacted by who controls the House and Senate. According to AARP, this pre-election issue “its strongest case yet of why all Americans need to vote in November, and provides background, insights and support to help older Americans make decisions and get to the polls.”
The headliner article, “Ten Ways the Midterm Elections Will Affect Older Americans,” details how a change who controls Congress and state legislatures could easily change laws regarding policies of interest to those over age 50, such as caregiving, healthcare, caregiving, and Medicaid.
The AARP Bulletin also takes a comprehensive look at how the election could affect age discrimination laws when we see a sharp increase in age biases against older workers. Meanwhile, a detailed graphics reveals “who and what is being voted on.” Readers can also glance at a roundup of key state initiatives being put to voters. Finally, AARP Chief Executive Officer Jo Ann Jenkins talks about her nonprofits policy positions and how it’s “Be the Difference. Vote” campaign can help educate and mobilize older voters.
For a demonstration of AARP’s app, go to www.aarp.org/raiseyourvoice. AARP also offers the AARP Now mobile app and a number of podcasts that are accessible through Amazon Alexa and Google Home.