Facebook to help register voters in UK

Matt Bowman · April 9, 2010 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/eec

UK visitors will be asked if they have registered this Saturday. Could boost youth participation.

 Facebook cofounder Chris Hughes is largely credited with President Obama’s successful online presidential campaign strategy. Now his company is being enlisted by the British Electoral Commission to get out the vote for next month’s hotly contested election for U.K. Prime Minister.

UK-based visitors to Facebook will be asked this Saturday if they have registered to vote. If they answer ‘no,’ the site will direct them to a page created in conjunction with the Electoral Commission where they can fill in their details. The form then needs to be printed out and sent in o the electoral commission office. The correct address for the local office is determined based on the user’s profile details and printed on the form. UK law requires it be sent by mail and not electronically to avoid voter fraud.

The move is expected to boost registration particularly among 18-24 year olds, which traditionally have the lowest turnout of any age group. In 2005, 37% of them voted compared to the national average 61.4 percent.

In the 2001 election, 3.5 million citizens failed to register. Richard Allan, Facebook's director of policy, said the site had 23 million users in Britain, of all ages and backgrounds. "We are therefore uniquely placed to reach unregistered voters," he told Reuters.

Voters must register by April 20 to take part in the elections on May 6, when the incumbant Gordon Brown, the Labour Party candidate who has made a recent come-from-behind surge in the polls, takes on the charismatic Conservative Party candidate David Cameron.

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