What can’t we do through Facebook? We can watch movies, host parties, donate to charities and engage in various other activities as the list of our virtual persona capabilities expands. To me, it seems logical that we would be able to register to vote via Facebook. In an effort to encourage younger people to vote, the state of Washington will be the first to offer Facebook voter registration. The MyVote app, developed by Microsoft may be available as early as next week.
Washington has offered online voter registration since 2008 and is one of only thirteen states, which allow digital registrants. According to the National Journal, 475,000 registrations have been processed online, and from 2010 to 2011, 62 percent of those newly registered voters were younger than 34. The implementation of Facebook voter registration may foster a great rise in these numbers.
Ricardo Bilton of VentureBeat shares the implications of this new option for republican and democrats:
“This means more young voters, who, if trends hold, are likely to vote for a Democratic candidate. That’s good news for the state’s Democrats, but not current Washington Governor Christine Gregorie: The two-term governor is not running for reelection this year.”
Still, I have my reservations about the privacy implications of voter registration, like my friend Art who considers:
“Will the Elections Office auto-post to my timeline what party I registered with and for whom I voted? I appreciate trying to make voter registration easier, but worry about Facebook’s privacy issues and tendency to want to scrape my data to market things to me and my friends.”
As Washington is the first to set this digital precedent, we’ll still have to see how Facebook voter registration evolves over time. It is quite likely that more states will follow Washington’s digital precedent, implementing similar initiatives in the near future.