The voter registration reminder that showed up at the top of your Facebook news feed last month actually had a significant effect on the number of people who registered across the country, The New York Times reported Wednesday in citing top election officials.
According to the Times, “at least nine secretaries of state have credited the social network’s voter registration reminder, displayed for four days in September, with boosting sign-ups, in some cases by considerable amounts. Data from nine other states show that registrations rose drastically on the first day of the campaign compared with the day before.”
Alex Padilla, secretary of state in California, told the newspaper that “Facebook clearly moved the needle in a significant way” 123,279 people registered to vote or updated their registrations on Sept. 23, the first day Facebook rolled out the reminder.
One graphic illustrated the registration bump across several states:
— Lauren Girardin (@girardinl) October 12, 2016
The reminder showed up on the pages of Facebook users who are old enough to vote, and simply said, “Are you registered to vote? Register now to make sure you have a voice in the election.”
“We thought we had a unique ability and responsibility to show people this reminder that they should be checking their registration so they can participate in the election,” Katie Harbath, Facebook’s director of government outreach, told USA TODAY back in September.
Facebook did not provide a demographic breakdown of users who were registering, but the Times notes that the social network is more popular among women and young people — a demographic that tends to lean Democrat.
And while many were applauding Facebook’s efforts to get more voters registered, the whole notion may fly in the face of one opinion which was going viral on Facebook just this week.
Mike Rowe, host of the Discovery Channel series “Dirty Jobs,” wrote a piece back in August about how, in so many words, it’s not enough to just register and vote. That right, not duty, as Rowe characterizes it, should be reserved for those who bother to inform themselves, and the TV host took issue in particular with celebrities who encourage anyone and everyone to get out there and vote.
Following Sunday night’s presidential debate, Rowe’s words resurfaced and he explained what was up in his own Facebook post on Wednesday: