Vote Registration In Washington State Can Now Be Achieved With Facebook App

We’re familiar and, dare I say it, comfortable with using Facebook as an online passport for a lot of things these days – leaving a comment on an article, Netflix, smartphone games and a whole host of other online services. But now Facebook is dipping its toe further into the waters of politics by getting involved with electoral admin in the USA.

Washington will become the first state in America to allow voters to register by using a Facebook app, that may be available as soon as next week. State officials are wise to the growth of social platforms as a means of user engagement, and say that utilising Facebook is a “natural way” to sign up voters.

More than a dozen states – including Washington – already allow voters to sign up online, but officials in Olympia (the state capital of Washington) think more needs to be done to encourage potential voters to register. Shane Hamlin, Co-director of Elections, told the Associated Press:

“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.”

The actual mechanics of the app, developed by Microsoft, do not allow Facebook to see anything other than a voter’s name and date of birth. The social network will not have access to the voter database either. Once a user enters his or her name and date of birth to the voter registration form, they will then have to provide a driving licence or state ID card number to continue. They can access the state’s My Vote site through the app, which will also have information about candidates and ballot measures.

Speaking of the app, Facebook spokesman Andrew Noyes said: “We are excited that citizens in Washington state will be able to register to vote and review useful voting information on Facebook.”

However, the app – and online voter registration as a whole – still has its opposition. Since 2010, 11 states have passed laws that require voters to present a form of government-approved photographic ID if they intend on voting. Supporters of this say that it will help to crack down on electoral fraud.

If you had the opportunity to sign up to the electoral register using a Facebook app, would you do it? Or do you prefer more traditional methods? Let us know by leaving a comment.


  1. Gentlemen, thank you both for taking the time to leave a comment.

    I must admit that I share your views that this is not a brilliant idea. If there is already a mechanism in place that allows people to register online, then surely by getting them to do it through Facebook is just putting another obstacle in the way of the primary objective. If someone has the ability to access Facebook, then they have the ability to find the registering site. I guess the defence of this system is more from an awareness point of view – people might know how and where they can register, so if you use a regularly visited site to inform them, then voter registration and therefore voter turnout might increase. However, I’m still skeptical about this.

    Brian – I’m from the UK, so I’m not completely familiar with the US voting mechanism – please correct me if I’m wrong here! But the way I understand this, is that once you’ve used the Facebook app to access the registration forms, you must enter a valid state ID or driving licence number in order to complete the process. Presumably these photo IDs will then be checked when voters go to the polling stations during elections?

    As I said, I’m still no convinced by this. It seems like they’re just doing because they can. I often think that we try to force social media into places where it just doesn’t fit or isn’t applicable. Tech is great and has made some many things in life easier and more accessible. But traditional methods still have their place. I’ll close this (rather long-winded) reply with something I heard recently that made me chuckle:

    “People say that paper will soon be a thing of the past. Well, try wiping your ass with an iPad and see how far that gets you.”

  2. This is one of the WORST Progressive ideas I’ve seen/heard in quite a while… and there have been lots of crappy ideas being perpetrated these days.

    If people cannot be bothered to go to a physical location to register, when so many Americans have fought and died to defend our rights, then don’t bother voting!

    I am going to share this link with my WA.STe Representatives and my FB & Twitter friends/follower lists, as soon as I finish commenting here.

    1. I object to using facebook to register without a proper ID (identification) with a photo. Voter fraud will for sure happen without a photo ID. Brian Mencke

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