Washington State partners with Facebook for voter registration

If you have a Facebook account, you can post embarrassing photos of your friends and check in at various locations around town. And if you’re a resident of the state of Washington, soon you’ll also be able to register to vote.

The state is teaming up with Facebook to make it easy for its citizens to register to vote online. Since 2008, Washington citizens have been able to use MyVote, an online registration platform built by Microsoft that removes the need for printing out and mailing in a registration form. In the coming days (no official rollout date has been announced), residents of the Evergreen state will be able to access the same platform via a Facebook app.

The app will redirect Washington users to the state’s official site, retrieving only their name and date of birth to expedite the process. Once they’re on the MyVote site, any information entered will go directly to the state, not Facebook.

“I want to stress that any sensitive and pertinent information voters give during the registration process will be entered solely into our system,” Shane Hamlin, Co-Director of Elections for Washington state, told the Daily Dot. “Using the Facebook app will be no different than using the state’s online registration site.”

When asked why Washington was partnering with the social network, Hamlin mentioned that the state wanted to encourage more voters to use the MyVote service instead of traditional mail-in and paper registration forms.

“For starters, it’s a huge saving for us in terms of overhead costs,” Hamlin said. “Not only that, but the online platform also cuts down on the registration errors.”

“Facebook, given its large user base and its highly social nature, is a perfect way to magnify and expand the use of MyVote. If a Washington voter comes to MyVote via Facebook, their friends will see that on their feed and perhaps they’ll too be encouraged to do the same.”

In addition to the partnership with Facebook, the state of Washington is also teaming up with Rock The Vote for a similar effort. On Monday, the nonprofit group released a statement saying that Washington residents who started the registration process online via their site would be redirected to the MyVote site. Much like with Facebook, Rock The Vote will not have access to your information.

In that same press release, Rock The Vote President Heather Smith lauded the new application for its potential to increase voter registration amongst the youth electorate. “Young people across the country are seeing their voting rights eroded by politicians with explicit interests in keeping them silent,” Smith said. “This tool will help them reclaim their voice in our democracy.”

From looking at these two partnerships, one could argue that these initiatives put forth by the state of Washington is specifically targeting young voters, a demographic notoriously known for low voter turnout. Hamlin did acknowledge that younger voters are more likely to be reached, particularly by Rock The Vote, but that the state’s prime directive is to cut down on overhead.

Image via Facebook

Fidel Martinez

Fidel Martinez

Fidel Martinez is a web culture and politics reporter. His work for the Daily Dot focused on Reddit and YouTube.