All it took was four days in September for Facebook to spark a massive increase in voter registration.
From Sept. 23 to 26, a Facebook reminder at the top of your News Feed read, "Are you registered to vote? Register now to make sure you have a voice in the election.” This was paired with a "Register Now" button, which redirected Facebook users tovote.usa.gov. The feature also allowed Facebook users to share that they registered.
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The results of the initiative are in, and there's an overwhelming correlation between the dates of Facebook's initiative and the actual number of people who registered to vote during that time.
According to the Center for Election Innovation and Research , 16 states saw increases in voter registration from up to 2x to 23x the voters that had registered the day before Facebook launched the feature. For example, Alabama registered 896 people to vote on Sept. 22 and 20,246 people to vote the next day when Facebook users woke up to the "Register Now" reminder.
Image: center for election innovation and research
Not to mention, according to the New York Times , nine secretaries of state have released official statements specifically attributing this spike in voter registration to Facebook's feature. "Facebook clearly moved the needle in a significant way," California's Secretary of State, Alex Padilla, told the Times.
Padilla also had a part in starting the VoteCal initiative, a voting database which has just launched and is meant to make pre-registering, registering, and finding poll information easier for California residents, according to the Center for Election Innovation and Research. California, specifically, registered 29,256-123,279 voters in the days Facebook launched its registration feature, so an online voting database may play an integral role in continuing to increase voter registration.
It is worth noting that Facebook was not alone in launching a campaign to register to vote in late September (In just one example, Joss Whedon'sSave the Day video went viral around the same time). But given that the spike days match up with Facebook's feature, it undeniably had an impact.
Samidh Chakrabarti, Facebook’s Product Manager for civic engagement, said in an emailed statement, “Going back to 2008, we’ve been reminding people on Facebook to vote on Election Day and directing them to information on where to vote. This is the natural next step. We want people to have a voice in the process, and getting registered means that there’s one less hurdle for them.”