Recently, Brian Zylstra, spokesman for the secretary of state’s office has said that Washington will become the first U.S. state that will allow eligible residents to register to vote via Facebook.
Since 2008, a system of online voter registration has existed in Washington, but the latest effort for increasing voter participation has been designed for users who already have a Facebook account.
With the help of software application interfaces that has been jointly developed by Facebook and Microsoft Corp. at no cost to the state, users wishing to register online for voting will be able to do so via the official Facebook page of the secretary of state.
In order to complete the registration process, an applicant is required to provide a name and birth date that Facebook already collects through its users’ profiles, along with a state identification number or driver’s license number, according to Shane Hamlin, the state’s co-director of elections.
Hamlin further stated that data has not been shared with the social media network, that boasts over 900 million users worldwide.
Once anyone starts the process, he or she is no longer entering data on Facebook and Facebook will not be collecting any of the data, according to Hamlin.
The program allows users to express their approval for this process by choosing to “like” the application, therefore suggesting it to their other Facebook friends.
Separately, an unbiased group Rock the Vote, that focuses on growing the political involvement of young people, has launched its own online tool for connecting with Washington’s existing Internet registration process on July 9.
Heather Smith, who is president of Rock the Vote, has said that the group’s first-ever collaboration with Washington state is one that targets young people and allows them to register themselves.
There is no printing or signing or mailing a form to a state office. Rock the Vote has intentions to launch the same kind of online efforts in California, Oregon as well as Nevada, according to Smith.
A state website has declared that Washington has almost 3.7 million registered voters out of 6.8 million residents.
These are two separate initiatives that utilize the same concept, according to Hamlin.