Photo by Curt Yeomans
Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp talks about business and elections issues during a visit to the Clayton County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday.
The Georgia Secretary of State’s Office is growing its web presence to meet a growing demand from young voters and business owners, for more online technology, the state’s top elections official told Clayton County business and elections officials on Thursday.
Secretary of State Brian Kemp — who visited Jonesboro as part of an effort to visit officials in every Georgia county — said his office is preparing to begin using social media tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, to send out business registration and election notices. He added that online voter registration is also on the way.
“That’s what young people want,” he said. “They don’t want to fill out a piece of paper. They want to be able to pull it up on their iPhone, and do it, and they’re going, ‘Why can’t I do this online?’”
The last two years have seen a growth in online tools available through the Georgia Secretary of State’s web site, www.sos.ga.gov/. Chief among them is the advent of the popular “My Voter Page,” or “MVP,” site that went online in 2010. Voters can use the site to find their polling precinct, and sample ballots.
Another online tool, accessible through the “MVP” site, is a feature where members of the military who are stationed overseas, and other Georgia voters who are temporarily residing out of the country, can file an online request for an absentee ballot. Although it was rolled out at the same time as the “My Voter Page,” Kemp said it has received considerably less fanfare.
Clayton County Chamber of Commerce President Yulonda Beauford, whose office was visited by Kemp Thursday, said the online technology is important because the chamber uses it to help keep members abreast of business and election information.
“What you all are doing with technology, and keeping up [with technology] so you can do so many things online .... is so critical,” Beauford told Kemp.
Now, the Secretary of State’s Office is planning to increase its social media presence over the next four months, to remind people of key dates associated with business registration renewals, and state and local elections. Kemp said his office regularly hears complaints from business owners who claim they missed the annual renewal deadline because they did not get their paper notifications in the mail.
“We’ve got to find a way to get people to follow us, so that when corporate-renewals season starts, you can get a reminder on your Blackberry,” Kemp said.
The secretary of state added that legislation passed this year will give his office permission to conduct online voter registrations. He added that it will not be rolled out until after this year’s elections are over, however. Switching to an online system will let counties dramatically cut their expenses for printing and mailing out registration forms, since the documents will be available online.
“There was a study done, I think in Arizona, that found it costs [a county] about $0.83 for a paper application, and the electronic forms cost about $0.02, to $0.03,” Kemp said.
Although Georgia is developing an online voter registration system, the secretary of state said a move to online voting is still “several years” away. He explained that there are still several issues, such as voter-fraud prevention, that have to be worked out before it could become a reality in this state.
“It’s certainly something that’s coming, and I’m sure there will be the ability to do that,” he said. “I just don’t know that we’ll go there anytime soon ... but that’s definitely something we’ll have to tackle in the next five, to 10 years.”