Facebook joins in voter registration drive

By Aled Thomas

Facebook fans have been poking each other for years, but now they’re being asked to sign up to vote.

The social networking site, which has grown exponentially in the last five years has joined up with the electoral commission to launch a voter registration drive.

With only 11 days to go to the April 20th registration deadline, a new page has been created on Facebook’s Democracy UK page from which the millions of UK users can download a personalised voter registration form.

And from Saturday, every user logging onto Facebook will be asked if they are registered to vote, before being directed to the Democracy UK page.

The Electoral Commission believes that it could sign up tens of thousands of new voters by using the popular website.

“Recent research suggests there still may be millions not registered to vote,” said Electoral Commission spokesperson Clinton Proud.

“If you’re not registered, you can’t vote – it’s very simple. By downloading and printing a form through Facebook, users can now make sure that they are able to have their say on election day.

“Many people assume they are automatically on the electoral register if they pay council tax or if they have voted before. This is not the case. And if you have moved house, even within the same borough, you need to re-register with your new address.

“So if you want to vote in the general election, you have until April 20th to register and make sure nothing stops you voting.”

Director of policy for Facebook, Richard Allan said: “With 23 million users in the UK, Facebook has members of every age, gender and ethnic background, representing the whole spectrum of political beliefs and those of none.

“We are therefore uniquely placed to reach unregistered voters and to ensure that no one who wants to vote and is entitled to do so misses out on the chance to have their say.”

This is the first time the Electoral Commission has used a social networking site to reach potential voters.