July 18, 2012, 5:19 PM — Someday we may well go about electing our president by clicking “Like” on their electoral status updates. We aren’t there yet, but the State of Washington just took another step closer to it.
Sometime next week the Washington State Elections Board plans to unveil a Facebook app that allows Washingtonians to register to vote via its Facebook page. It is the first instance of a state government using social media to perform that function, though it’s not the first to allow voters to register online.
Once it’s up and running, the Facebook app will prefill voter’s forms with information they’ve provided to Facebook – which is kind of a backhanded way for Facebook to force people to use their real identities and other information on their profiles.
Like eight other states, Washington already allows voters to register online. You’ll have to provide basic information like a birthdate and the number from a state issued ID card or drivers license. If you don’t have a valid number, you can’t get too far along in the process.
How easily one can game this system and create a false registration is unclear, in part because of technical difficulties on the site when I tried it. It was simple enough for me to obtain a photo of someone else’s Washington State drivers’ license, though – a simple Google Image search produced the desired result, thanks to some helpful person who posted the pic of his license online.
And no, it was not Sasquatch.
When I attempted to use his information to create a new registration, just to see if it worked, I got an error message stating “The DOL [ department of licensing] service not reachable.” Whether that was the system detecting an error in the data I submitted or just a bug on the Web site is an open question. Given the information in this FAQ, and the fact that the MyVote home page asks users to “please use Internet Explorer” for better compatibility, my money’s on the bugs. But it doesn’t give me a lot of confidence in Washington State’s technical mojo.
You’d have to be highly motivated to try this. Per the site: