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Facebook and Washington state join forces to register voters

Collaborating with Microsoft, Washington state and Facebook partner to create an app that lets the state's residents register to vote via the social network.

Washington State Election's Facebook page.
Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Washington state is the first state to get hip to social media for its voter registration. According to the Associated Press, the secretary of state's office announced today that it will feature an app on its Facebook page letting residents register to vote.

"In this age of social media and more people going online for services, this is a natural way to introduce people to online registration and leverage the power of friends on Facebook to get more people registered," co-director of elections Shane Hamlin told the Associated Press.

The app was designed by Microsoft, which joined the collaboration with Facebook and Washington last fall. The way it works is Facebook will access users' information, such as name and date of birth, and then users will have to fill in additional information from their driver's license or state ID card. Hamlin told the Associated Press that Facebook would not be privy to this extra information.

Washington is one of about a dozen states that has online voter registration, which it initiated in 2008. Since then, 475,000 people have either registered to vote or changed their address via this system. According to the National Journal, 32 percent of all voter registrations have been done online this year and 62 percent of those were done by voters younger than 34 years old.

Besides registering to vote on Facebook, residents can also "like" the app and recommend it to friends. They will also be able to access the state's "My Vote" site, which has voter information on candidates and ballot measures. According to the Associated Press, the app could launch as soon as next week.

Facebook also recently partnered with CNN to create an "I'm Voting" app for the social network. This app shows that users are voting along with the specific candidates and issues they endorse, which will be displayed on their timelines, news feeds and real-time tickers.