We’re familiar and, dare I say it, comfortable with using Facebook as an online passport for a lot of things these days – leaving a comment on an article, Netflix, smartphone games and a whole host of other online services. But now Facebook is dipping its toe further into the waters of politics by getting involved with electoral admin in the USA.
Washington will become the first state in America to allow voters to register by using a Facebook app, that may be available as soon as next week. State officials are wise to the growth of social platforms as a means of user engagement, and say that utilising Facebook is a “natural way” to sign up voters.
More than a dozen states – including Washington – already allow voters to sign up online, but officials in Olympia (the state capital of Washington) think more needs to be done to encourage potential voters to register. Shane Hamlin, Co-director of Elections, told the Associated Press:
“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.”
The actual mechanics of the app, developed by Microsoft, do not allow Facebook to see anything other than a voter’s name and date of birth. The social network will not have access to the voter database either. Once a user enters his or her name and date of birth to the voter registration form, they will then have to provide a driving licence or state ID card number to continue. They can access the state’s My Vote site through the app, which will also have information about candidates and ballot measures.
Speaking of the app, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said: “We are excited that citizens in Washington state will be able to register to vote and review useful voting information on Facebook.”
However, the app – and online voter registration as a whole – still has its opposition. Since 2010, 11 states have passed laws that require voters to present a form of government-approved photographic ID if they intend on voting. Supporters of this say that it will help to crack down on electoral fraud.
If you had the opportunity to sign up to the electoral register using a Facebook app, would you do it? Or do you prefer more traditional methods? Let us know by leaving a comment.