Social Media Gains Bigger Role In Wash. Election Process

Aug 6, 2012

It’s election time again: the Washington state primary is Tuesday. And the election process is changing. Every county in the state uses mail-in ballots now. And social media is gaining a bigger role in the election process.

Yup -– Facebook.

If you’re an eligible voter in Washington, you can now register through Facebook. You need to give your driver’s license number to validate it, but the Secretary of State’s office says the application is secure.

The state partnered with Microsoft to make Facebook registration happen. And Washington is the first to do so.

You can’t register now to vote in the primary but there’s plenty of time to register -- Facebook or otherwise -– before the general election in November.

As Washington is all vote-by-mail now, some voters miss going to the polls and standing in line with their neighbors.

And you know what else? The “I voted” sticker. Take voter John Kemner. Why does he miss it?

“Oh, well, a little bit of pride, because I like saying, hey I went out there and voted,"Kemner  says. "But also just letting other people know. Maybe some other people go 'Oh yeah! I could vote' or 'I should vote today' or something like that.”

But wait. The state has a social media answer for that, too!

An e-sticker. You can go to the Washington elections page and download a green “I voted” image. It’s sized just right so you can make it your Facebook profile pic.

Will Kemner use it?

“Mmm... no," he says. "Call me old school but I like a little physical token.”

Maybe Kemner is old school. Here’s another Washington voter, 24-year-old Matisse Miller.

“Yeah, it definitely makes sense to me.”

No physical token? Not a problem.

“I’m sure more people look at my Facebook than see me in a day,” Miller says with a laugh.

Miller is old enough, though, to remember voting in person. She says that made her feel giddy. And now, the mail-in voting just isn’t as exciting.

Washington made the switch after more than 80 percent of voters were opting for it, anyway.
And the Secretary of State’s office says it gets more people to vote.

Now, they hope the Facebook voter registration app will also get more people to register. The state estimates 2 million people are eligible to vote and have not registered.

Copyright 2012 KUOW Public Radio

On the Web:

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