Voters in Washington may register on Facebook

The masses have been holding their breath, waiting for the day when they can post funny cat pics and register to vote all in one place. Well, social media users in Washington can exhale now, as the state will be the first to officially allow voter registrations via Facebook, possibly as soon as next week.

In 2008, Washington was the second of 13 U.S. states to enable online voter registration, and now it's ahead of the curve once again. The process will be handled via a Facebook app developed by Microsoft, which will use the My Vote system to let first-time voters register or allow others to update their registrations. The system is, of course, reliant on end users using authentic Facebook accounts, so users Princess Beyonce CandyCloud or Mr. Max Paynekerstein need not put their aliases in there. Legal names and birth dates gets pulled in and checked against the state database to see if the users are already registered. They'll also need a valid ID.

Seems like a good idea, as anything that makes the voter registration process more convenient and accessible is a good thing. According to the secretary of state's office, the app will be available directly on the Washington Elections Facebook page, where residents will also be able to "like" the application, thereby encouraging friends to register as well.

This tactic could also offer a financial benefit: Counties stand to save anywhere from 50 cents to $2 per registrant, and the state could save 25 cents each. Multiplied across a broad userbase, that could amount to quite a sum. (Hopefully, though, some of that is earmarked for security. Facebook apps aren't exactly bulletproof, and there are groups who might find the idea of hacking this system irresistible.)

[via Ars Technica, AP, USA Today]