As cryptocurrencies become more popular and commonplace in our day to day lives, it was inevitable that they would eventually become part of the political scene. Bitcoin made its political debut back in 2017, where the state of Kansas declined a request for a candidate to accept Bitcoin donations. Since then, a Republican candidate had to turn down a Bitcoin donation for being too large.
Cryptocurrencies certainly have the potential to help boost a candidate’s ability to buy media space and outshine the competition – potentially drawing in a younger crowd to the voting scene. Millennials have the lowest voter turnout of any age group, and if candidates can leverage cryptocurrencies properly, they could coerce these voters to turn out in big numbers.
Is American Politics Ready for Crypto?
Andrew Yang – Presidential candidate for the 2020 election – has announced that he will accept most cryptocurrencies as a form of donation to his campaign. His campaign will accept any cryptocurrency that is based on the ERC20 standard and starting from a minimum donation of $2,500. To prevent any KYC issues and unlawful donations, his campaign has put a stringent donation process in place. In order to donate cryptocurrencies to the Yang campaign, would-be donors are required to verify their voter qualifications. So, such an individual must be a US citizen, reside in a US state, and be at least 18 years of age by voting day. Once these conditions have been met and subsequently verified, they will be provided with a wallet address to send their crypto donations to.
Unlocking the Power of the Millennial Voter
In every election since the turn of the minimum the voting age has been 18, yet this age group still has the poorest election day turnout to date. Yang is seeking to change this and arm his campaign with a loyal group of young followers. By using platforms such as Venmo and cryptocurrencies to accept donations, he is showing that he’s willing to make a connection with a younger demographic. In addition to accepting electronic payments that are popular with millennials, Yang is also broadcasting his interviews and rallies on Twitch and Instagram TV. Given his efforts to target voters under the age of 30, Kim “Bitcoin” Kardashian would certainly be proud.
North Carolina Says No to Crypto
Crypto is still an emerging concept, especially amongst the older generation that largely make up political candidates. North Carolina received a request from Emmanuel Wilder – a Republican candidate – to accept Bitcoin donations during his midterm Legislature elections, however they turned his application down. In the reply Wilder received, the email said. “we do not have the confidence that we could adequately regulate contributions to a political campaign in North Carolina in the form of cryptocurrency.” There was some positive news though. Kim Westbrook Strach – State Board of Elections Executive Director for North Carolina – who handles donation policy in North Carolina said, “although it might not be today, there will be a day when this technology will have a place in the political process.”
Candidates have to be careful when it comes to accepting crypto donations, largely due to the anonymous nature of them. While the NSA and US government could easily find out who donated the cryptocurrency, for PR reasons it’s probably best if other candidates follow Yang and implement a KYC process to enable donations.
Crypto has the power to unlock the power of the millennial voters, potentially swinging the fate of the election as a result. Will candidates need to get a BitLicense to accept donations in New York? Only time will tell, but it’s now almost certain that cryptocurrency will have a role to play in the race for the White House in 2020.