Washington State To Become First To Offer Voter Registration On Facebook

By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz
By: CNN Posted By: Stephanie Schultz

(CNN) -- Washington will become the first state to offer voter registration via Facebook with a new application to be launched as soon as next week, according to a state election official.

Once online, the app will be accessible on the secretary of state's Facebook page, said Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections for the state.

Washington, which has approximately 3.7 million registered voters, conducts elections entirely by mail and enacted online registration in 2008. Since online registration started, Hamlin said close to 500,000 voter registrations or address changes have been processed.

Facebook, Washington state and Microsoft have teamed up to create an app that allows users to register on the social media site through the state's new "MyVote" app. The effort came about last fall when Microsoft approached Washington state after Facebook contacted the software giant with the idea.

When Facebook users download the application, they will have to agree to allow Facebook to access their information, including name and date of birth, which is pre-filled into the voter registration form.

Users will still need to enter information from a driver's license or state ID card number to verify their identities in real-time through a state database. Once you "like" the app you can recommend your friends to like it and download it too.

When asked about concerns on whether Facebook will have access to voters' information, Hamlin reassured voters that "Washington state is collecting the voter information, not Facebook"

Besides registering to vote on Facebook, Washington residents will be able to update personal information, access customized voter guides with candidate info and ballot measures, as well as access replacement ballots.

When asked about who the state was targeting for this app, Hamlin said the state didn't create this partnership to only target young people, but wanted to use Facebook's social media platform for all voters to access crucial voter/election information.

Washington residents aged 18-29 only accounted for 10% of voters during the 2008 presidential election according to CNN election results. President Barack Obama defeated Sen. John McCain 58-41% in Washington state four years ago.

Announced earlier this month, CNN and Facebook have partnered to offer an interactive and uniquely social experience for the upcoming presidential election for CNN's on-air, mobile and online audiences and Facebook's more than 160 million U.S. users.

The digital election partnership will measure social buzz, conduct voter surveys and also include the real-time 'I'm Voting' app to track voter commitments, endorse specific candidates and issues.


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