Washington

Facebook helps Washington record number of voter registrations

Facebook posted this message reminding Washington adults to register to vote for several days in March.
Facebook posted this message reminding Washington adults to register to vote for several days in March.

More Washington residents registered to vote online March 18 than in any other day in state history.

The reason? Facebook.

That day, Facebook began reminding Washington users to register to vote, using a post that linked to the U.S. government’s voter registration portal. The national site then directed thousands of people to Washington state’s online voter registration tool, MyVote.wa.gov.

The chain of events led to to 13,072 Washington voter registrations and updates being processed online in a single day, according to Washington’s Office of the Secretary of State.

The number of online registrations surpassed the previous one-day record of 12,655, which was set on October 8, 2012 — the last day to register to vote before the 2012 presidential election.

State officials said they have been working for some time to use Facebook to increase voter registrations online.

We love using social media as one of the avenues to attract new voter registrations.

Kim Wyman, Washington’s secretary of state

The online tool to register to vote in Washington debuted in 2006.

“We are pleased with the influx of new voters as we head into the Presidential Primary and the state Primary and General Election season,” Secretary of State Kim Wyman said in a news release.

“We love using social media as one of the avenues to attract new voter registrations.”

Facebook officials said their goal with the voter-registration remainders was to increase participation in this year’s elections. The reminders began appearing at the top of Washington users’ pages on March 18 and continued for the next three days, according to the company.

The company has previously posted reminders for people to vote on Election Day, but this year’s effort marked the first time Facebook has reminded people to register to vote, company officials said.

The push came about week before Democrats in Washington held precinct caucuses March 26 to help decide their party’s presidential nominee.

By providing a platform for civic engagement, Facebook makes it easier for people to participate and have a real impact on the political process.

Katie Harbath, Facebook’s director of government and politics

“By providing a platform for civic engagement, Facebook makes it easier for people to participate and have a real impact on the political process,” said Katie Harbath, Facebook’s director of government and politics, in a prepared statement.

“When more people are engaged, they hear a wider range of views, leading to an open and healthy debate about the important public policy issues that affect all of us.”

Republicans in Washington state will use the results of the May 24 presidential primary to help choose the Republican nominee for president.

Voters who want to participate in the May 24 presidential primary need to register to vote by April 25.

In addition to the option to register online with a valid Washington driver’s license or state-issued ID card, eligible voters can register in person at their local elections office or by mail.

Ballots for the presidential primary will be mailed in early May.

Melissa Santos: 360-357-0209, @melissasantos1

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