The Washington secretary of state’s office announced that it will unveil a Facebook application next week to complement the state’s online voter registration program. Washington is one of 13 states that have passed online voter registration bills and one of 10 in which it is already in effect.
According to the Associated Press, the app will prefill information about prospective voters into the online application after a person allows Facebook to access their information. Voters can also share with their Facebook friends the fact that they have registered online and invite others to register with the app as well. Applicants must have a Washington driver’s license or non-driver ID.
Despite the explosion of voter suppression efforts around the country, there are some states that are adhering to the notion that our democracy is stronger when more people can participate. For example, Maryland passed online registration last year and Connecticut passed online and Election Day registration earlier this year. Washington’s effort to modernize voter registration is an important step in the right direction toward helping more people cast a ballot.
Finding new ways to increase online registration also saves money and ensures greater accuracy in recordkeeping. A Brennan Center study that examined online registration in Maricopa County, Arizona found that the county went from spending 83 cents to process an application to three cents when it moved from paper to online forms. In addition, the error rate for paper forms was five times that of online forms.
Although greater access to online registration for individuals with signatures on file with the DMV are important, FELN has also examined ways to expand online registration to others by using touchscreen technology. In our “Mobile Voter Registration Report,” FELN advocates for the use of touch screen devices to collect signatures that can be used to register individuals who do not already have an in-state driver’s license or non-driver ID.
For more information on the use of technology to improve voter registration, check out the Mobile Voters section of FELN’s website.