On Thursday, you’ll be able to make campaign donations to 2020 presidential candidates through your Amazon Alexa devices — or at least to those candidates whom Amazon deems eligible to set up an account.
If a campaign chooses to sign up for Alexa donations, you’ll be able to donate to it by merely saying, “Alexa, I want to make a political contribution,” or “Alexa, donate [amount] to [candidate name].” All donations will be processed through Amazon Pay, and users will receive email receipts for their contributions as well.
Strangely, the feature is only available to 2020 presidential candidates Amazon defines as “principal campaign committees.” It’s not apparent who Amazon considers “principal” and for what reasons. Amazon declined to comment on what exactly constitutes a “principal” candidate. Those eligible candidates who choose to sign up must “have a U.S.-based street address, a U.S.-based bank account, a credit card associated with a U.S. street address, and a U.S.-based phone number.” All of this makes sense, since Amazon shouldn’t be allowing for foreign entities to receive donations on behalf of US presidential candidates. That’s illegal.
To sign up, candidates need to register as merchants, submit some Federal Election Commission forms documenting their candidacy, and send in a handful of variations of the candidate’s name. For example, Bernie Sanders, a 2020 presidential candidate, also goes by “Bernie” or his official title, “Sen. Sanders.” Pete Buttigieg likes to go by “Mayor Pete” as well.