Facebook can be annoying sometimes. Ok…a lot of the time. While some people avoid the social networking site like the plague, others get a lot of use out of it. Pretty soon it will serve a very important function – allowing users to register to vote. At least if you live in Washington State. Read on for details.
“The secretary of state’s office said Tuesday it will have an application on its Facebook page that allows residents to register to vote and then ‘like’ the application and recommend it to their friends. It’s expected to launch as early as next week,” writes the Associated Press.
The ability to register online is not new, currently 13 states allow you to do so, but registering on Facebook is a first. Washington state has registered (or done change of addresses) online for 475,000 residents since 2008. Microsoft has apparently been developing the new app with the state and Facebook since last fall.
“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,” said Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections.
Here’s how it will work:
Once it’s live, Facebook users can click on the application within the secretary of state’s Facebook page. They’ll need to agree to let Facebook access their information, which will be used to prefill their name and date of birth in the voter registration form. Users will still need to provide a driver’s license or state ID card number to continue. Hamlin said that Facebook doesn’t have access to the state’s database; its page just overlays the application. Voters will also be able to access the state’s “My Vote” site with specific information on candidates and ballot measures.
So users don’t have to worry about giving Facebook any information they don’t already have, which is always a concern. “You are giving your information to us, not Facebook,” said Hamlin.
What do you think of this new joint venture? Tons of people, especially those who aren’t old enough to vote yet, may be swayed into registering when it comes time thanks to the ease of use. Not that I want Facebook to take over the world but it would be a wise idea for other states to follow suit.