Washington voter registration?
There’s an app for that

Washington voter registration? <br>There's an app for that

Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed is touting his MyVote Washington voters Facebook application. Photo by Lizzie Chen/News21.

Becoming a registered voter in Washington state is now a social experience.

The state’s MyVote Facebook application fits the lifestyle of many voters, Washington Secretary of State Sam Reed said Saturday, at the National Association of Secretaries of State summer conference in Puerto Rico.

“Our state, like so many, has been financially hurting,” Reed said. He added that this app was a low cost way to improve voter registration.

Washington residents can now log in to their Facebook account, go to the MyVote app, and answer a few questions.

If individuals already are registered, they can update their voter registration information. If not, the system invites them to register.

The app then lets voters review candidates for upcoming elections and displays contact information for elected officials.

The MyVote app adds to Washington’s reputation for changing the voting experience. In 2008 Washington became the first state to hold a top-two primary, rather than using the familiar party nomination system. It also joined Oregon that year as one of only two states to vote by mail only.

Reed wanted to release the new technology this winter, but acknowledged that it wasn’t secure enough. After continuing to work on the app, which the state designed in collaboration with Microsoft and Facebook, it was launched earlier this summer.

Users get access to the app through Facebook, but all information entered is transferred directly to Washington’s database.

“In business they say, ‘location, location, location.’ Well how many people are on Facebook?” Reed asked.

By Joe Henke, News21

Coffee Break Ballot, June 26: Current Trends in Voting Rights

All it takes is one buzzy story for mentions of one of our key search terms to increase ninefold.

That term is voter ID, and that story comes to us today from Pennsylvania. At a Pennsylvania Republican Committee meeting this weekend, House Majority Leader Mike Turzai said that the new voter ID law would help Gov. Mitt Romney win the state.

The comment was reported by a Pennsylvania political blog Monday afternoon, and exploded across the Internet as progressive Twitter users reacted. Top-flight news organizations as diverse as CNN, Politico and even The New York Times have covered the story, and a tweet from Sandra Fluke, Georgetown law student and progressive activist, has been retweeted more than 100 times as of this blog post.

The resulting social media firestorm has pushed mentions of voter ID on Twitter to nearly 9,300 in the last 24 hours, the most seen in our regular searches on Topsy.com.

More on the Twitter explosion later, but first, some links.

What We’ve Been Reading

Casting ballots on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border,” (Catherine E. Shoichet, 06/26, CNN)

Pennsylvania’s Voter ID Law Spurs Debate,” (Michael Cooper, 06/25, New York Times)

No voter ID measure expected this session,” (John Frank, 06/26, Raleigh News & Observer)

Pay Those Bills On Time Or Forefeit Right To Vote,” (Ed Kilgore, 06/26, Washington Monthly)

Gilchrist indicted for voter fraud,” (Kaylee Remington, 06/26, The Morning Journal)

Detroit activists protest Gov. Rick Snyder over ‘voter suppression’ bills, bridge project,” (Jonathan Oosting, 06/26, MLIVE)

Twitter Trends

We could tell you again about how many times “voter ID” has been mentioned in the last 24 hours, or we could just direct you to this helpful analytics chart from Topsy.com.

That steep climb in mentions, and the buzz-worthy item in Pennsylvania has a lot of features that make stories like it popular on social media sites.

It features a prominent but nationally unknown state politician making politically tricky comments at a party-sponsored event. The tone and implications of Turzai’s comments lend credence to those who oppose voter ID laws and believe Republicans are trying to suppress Democrat voters. And the story has been tossed around a variety of news sites, exposing it to a wide audience and giving it the appearance of a major news event.

The furor over Turzai’s comments may die soon. We’re already seeing conservative pushback against this progressive anger, alleging that voter ID does intentionally suppress illegal or fraudulent Democrat voters and is therefore required and welcomed.

But know this: even the most inane political comment is no longer safe from the 24-hour hyper news cycle of Twitter, Facebook and the rest of the Internet, as Turzai now clearly knows.

For more news and links, follow us @WhoCanVote.