Facebook just isn’t about browsing photos of friends. A new initiative in Washington state actually might have a higher purpose: Allowing citizens to register to vote.

The Associated Press reports that the Secretary of State’s Office next week plans to launch a new effort whereby individuals can register to vote.

“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,” said Shane Hamlin, co-director of elections, told the AP.

Microsoft and Facebook worked with the state of Washington on the new app since last fall. The state has offered online registration since 2008, but this marks the first time that citizens will be able to register via Facebook.

[Hat tip to Cnet]

Comments

  • http://www.christopherbudd.com Christopher Budd

    “Dislike”

    I admit, I’m very conservative when it comes to questions about voting and technology. I’m not a fan of electronic voting machines nor of “mail only” voting because of the risks those open up for fraud and manipulation.

    Yes, paper ballots can be faked and boxes stuffed, but the threats and risks are better known and, at the end of the day, the physicality of voting in person puts hurdles in place that make wide-spread fraud harder. And the physical ballots give you something you can see and touch which makes the process more credible in my opinion.

    So, having something as untested as Facebook be used for voter registration seems like it’s opening a whole new world of risks around fraud and vote hacking. And then there’s all sorts of potential privacy concerns (“Bob has just registered as a Republicrat. Click here to like this”).

    Given that elections are very tight and very contentious already and there’s a number of things going on around voter registration already, to me this is a bad idea coming at an even worse time.

    And Facebook must be crazy to get into this. They’re going to get dragged into a VERY ugly battle around the validity of voter registrations and I doubt they have the experience or expertise to deal with that well (I don’t know that anyone does though).

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