Politics 2016: President Obama on Technology at SXSW Fest

President Barack Obama kicked off the 2016 SXSW Fest with a keynote speech, marking the first time in its 30-year history that a president has participated in the event.

“I’m here because I like excuses to come to Austin, Texas,” Obama said as he opened his speech.

Obama discussed civic engagement in the 21st Century through the use of technology as part of a keynote conversation at SXSW Interactive.

Obama said one of the roles of technology is to inform voters.

“We’re spending a lot of time figuring out how to make government better by technology,” he told Evan Smith, editor-in-chief of the Texas Tribune, and the SXSW crowd.

He then cracked a joke at his expense: “I passed the Affordable Care Act and then the website didn’t work,” he said. “This was embarrassing to me because I was the cool president.”

Obama added that it’s easier to order a pizza than vote, suggesting that Americans should be able to vote for the president online.

“We’re the only advanced democracy in the world that makes it harder for people to vote,” he said. “You’re laughing, but it’s sad.”

First Lady Michelle Obama will be the opening keynote at SXSW Music on March 16. She’ll discuss the Let Girls Learn initiative. Other keynote speakers include J.J. Abrams, Jake Gyllenhaal, Kerry Washington, Ellen Page, Don Cheadle and Joel Edgerton.