Register to vote through Facebook? Washington reveals new app.

As soon as next week, Facebook users in Washington state may register to vote through an app developed by Microsoft. The initiative could mobilize young voters.

Associated Press
Facebook has been developing the Washington state registration voter app since last fall, sources say.

In an effort to convince more residents to complete their voter registration online, Washington state has partnered with Facebook to develop a voting registration app for the social network.

The upcoming app – designed by Microsoft – is the first of its kind. Expected to launch as soon as next week, it will “put a screen from the official state website into a user’s Facebook page, and…automatically add some of the information already in a Facebook profile, including name and date of birth,” according to Mashable. Users will still need to enter personal information, such as a driver’s license or state ID card number, to verify their identities. 

Ideally, this partnership would make it easier for residents to register, especially considering Facebook’s popularity, Washington’s co-director of elections Shane Hamlin 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,” he said.

Hamlin said Facebook won’t collect voters’ personal information, but that users will have to give the site permission to use their full names and birth dates. 

So far in 2012, about one-third of Washington’s voters completed their registrations online, not counting those filled out at the state’s motor vehicle department, the National Journal reports, and 62 percent of online registrants are under 34, according to 2010 and 2011 data. If the MyVote app proves successful, Washington – and other states that may follow suit – will most likely bring in even more young voters. 

“Young voters… if trends hold, are likely to vote for a Democratic candidate,” VentureBeat’s Ricardo Bilton says. “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.” 

Rock the Vote president Heather Smith says 50,000 new Washington voters are expected to register with the help of this new app and Rock the Vote’s own Facebook app, which connects online educational services with the Washington voter registration system, the Journal says. The Rock the Vote app was released Friday.

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