Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/GettyImages.
Users have long lamented dubious political debates on Facebook. But in Washington state the site will soon take on an essential democratic function: registering state residents to vote.
The Associated Press reports that the secretary of state’s office in Olympia plans to launch an app by next week that will allow Facebook users in Washington to register to vote automatically. Users can access the app through the office’s website, then “like” and share it with others, an effort that a local official said would be “a natural way to introduce people to online registration and leverage the power of friends on Facebook to get more people registered.”
Washington has offered online voter registration since 2008, one of only 13 states to allow it, but the state will be the first to venture into social integration. As with most apps, users will have to agree to share basic information with the secretary of state’s office, and a driver’s license or state I.D. number will be required.
Since virtual registration was launched in Washington four years ago, 475,000 voters have registered or updated their registration online, of about 3.7 million registered voters there overall.
Facebook's latest civic venture mirrors a new drive by the social networking site to encourage users to list themselves as organ donors, which legal experts speculate could be used in the case of a deceased person who was not officially on donor rolls.