Voter Registration Soon Available via Facebook in Washington State

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Source: Holly Bailey, “‘Washington to Offer Voter Registration Via Facebook,” news.yahoo.com, July 18, 2012

The State of Washington announced on July 17, 2012 that a new Facebook application will allow its residents to register to vote. Washington is the first state to offer voter registration via Facebook.

The application, developed jointly by the Secretary of State of Washington, Facebook, and Microsoft, will act as an overlay for the state’s “MyVote” election website. Facebook will “not be collecting peoples’ information,” according to Washington’s Co-Director of Elections Shane Hamlin. “You are giving your information to us,” he said, “not Facebook.”
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Washington state has had online voter registration since 2008, and 475,000 registrations or changes of address have been processed through the system. Thirty-two percent of all voter registrations have been done online in 2012, not counting those done on-site at the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles. Washington is one of 12 states that offer online registration.

Once live, Facebook users will be able to click on the application from the Washington State Elections Facebook page. Facebook will prefill the user’s name and date of birth in the state’s voter registration form, but users will need to provide a driver’s license or state ID card number to continue.

“In this age of social media and more people going online for services, this is a natural way to introduce people to online registration and leverage the power of friends on Facebook to get more people registered,” Hamlin said.

Critics have raised concerns about Facebook’s privacy policies. “From a consumer’s viewpoint, Facebook’s fatal design error isn’t that Johnny can see Billy’s data,” said Consumer Reports. “It’s that Facebook has uncontrolled access to everybody’s data, regardless of the so-called privacy settings. And even users who adjust those settings can be surprised by where their information winds up.”

According to the Secretary of State’s office, the application is expected to launch as early as next week.

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Sources:

Kelly Clay, “Washington State Voters Can Soon Register With Facebook,” forbes.com, July 18, 2012

“Facebook and Your Privacy,” consumerreports.org, June 2012 

Rachel La Corte, “Wash. to Unveil Voter Registration on Facebook,” news.yahoo.com, July 17, 2012

Adam Mazmanian, “Washington State Can Register to Vote on Facebook,” mashable.com, July 17, 2012

Stephanie Miot, “Washington State Offers Voter Registration Via Facebook,” pcmag.com, July 18, 2012

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