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ATMs dispense cash, voting reminder

By Claes Bell ·
Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Posted: 5 pm ET

When Wells Fargo customers visit the ATM this election season, they'll see something new: a reminder to vote Nov. 6.

After hearing from a Wells Fargo customer on Twitter that she'd seen a message encouraging voting while completing an ATM transaction in Arlington, Va., I contacted the bank to find out more.

Wells-Fargo ATM users will see this message through Nov. 2

Wells Fargo ATM users will see this message through Nov. 6. (Photo courtesy Wells Fargo)

Turns out, this is a long-standing program. From Lisa Westermann, a Wells Fargo spokeswoman:

This (public service announcement) is something we've done for years. Currently, it is running on 11,000 ATMs nationwide. We don't provide information about candidates in these communications, but remind them of important dates for registering to vote in primary and general elections. We've also conducted outreach to customers in the past in statement envelope messages. In all of our election-related communication, we make it clear that voting -- including whether or not to -- is a personal decision, but that WF's leadership believes this is a part of being involved in our communities.

I think this is a cool idea, and a classy move by Wells Fargo, which is devoting valuable real estate on the ATM screens to address a serious issue. Voter participation in this country has been so bad for so long that few people even take notice anymore. In 2008, considered a banner year for voter participation, 38.4 percent of eligible voters didn't show up, according to figures from George Mason University. I'm sure there were some that made the conscious decision not to vote on principle, but I'm equally sure there were many who simply forgot or didn't make the time to do it.

If Wells Fargo's gentle reminder nudges a few of its millions of customers to go and exercise their civic rights, that's a good thing.

What do you think? Should ATMs remind you to vote?

Follow me on Twitter: @ClaesBell.

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Claes Bell
October 25, 2012 at 9:09 am

Hey Bucky, I did in fact confirm that. They put it on all their ATM screens every election season. I like the skepticism, though.

Bucky Swider
October 25, 2012 at 9:04 am

I may be a little (a lot?) cynical here, but can you confirm that this message is across-the-board for all Wells Fargo ATMs and customers, and not targeting areas and/or customers (the ATMs know the profile of at least the WF customers when they insert their cards!) that would be most likely to vote for candidates that WF believes are in their (the bank's) best interest?