February 27, 2013 By Noelle Knell
Shane Hamlin is part of a team in Washington state working to make sure that voters can access as many services as possible online. Washington was the second state to provide online voter registration via its MyVote portal, and it broke new ground by becoming the first to let candidates file for election electronically. A mobile app also offers up-to-date election results from the Secretary of State’s office.
In August 2012, the state added a new way for eligible voters to register or make changes to their registration information through Facebook. In a partnership with Washington-based Microsoft, the social media giant approached state officials about creating an app that allows Facebook users direct access to MyVote.
“We thought it would be a great way to leverage the power of social media to improve and grow the use of online registration,” Hamlin explained.
Facebook now acts as a direct portal to Washington’s system — MyVote users connect with the state’s servers, without sharing voting-related data with Facebook.
And the state’s online registration efforts are paying off. According to Hamlin, every voter that registers online saves counties between 50 cents and $2, depending on the type of registration system they use. Since online registration debuted in 2008, more than 525,000 registrations and changes of address have been processed this way. The state has long since recovered the cost of building the $280,000 system, and is now just enjoying the savings.
Photo by Laura Mott
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