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Hey: We're Working with Fight for the Future on "The #InternetVotes"

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, September 19 2012

Last winter, networked citizens, organizations and internet platform providers used the power of the web to engage their members and organize their users around their concerns over the proposed Stop Online Piracy and Protect IP Acts. Millions of people responded by calling, faxing and emailing their representatives in Congress and the bills were dropped.

Now all kinds of groups are working to use the power of the Internet to help Americans register and turn out to vote this November. As part of that effort, Personal Democracy Media is pleased to be partnering with Fight for the Future, with the support of the Ford Foundation, on a nonpartisan initiative called "The Internet Votes" that will use social media and open data to increase voter registration and turnout among the constituency that many people have started calling "the Internet public."

The project has two distinct parts. First, we're joining with the wider voter education coalition that is mobilizing around National Voter Registration Day, September 25th, and we're calling on other individual and groups that identify with the "internet public" to join in. In some states, voter registration deadlines start to kick in soon after that day, so it's important to remind people of the need to register in time and to help them do so.

Second, we're helping FFTF develop and promote a web and Facebook app that is designed not only to make voter registration easy (built with the help of TurboVotes' terrific online infrastructure), but to get people to pledge to vote and share that commitment with their friends.

In doing this, we're encouraged by all the social science research showing that reminding people to vote and showing them that their friends and peers are also voting can boost turnout. For example, as we reported here a few days ago, in 2010 Facebook found that simply including social information along with the "I Voted" button on Election Day had the effect of getting approximately 340,000 additional people to go out and vote--about a half a percent increase in turnout. Here we're starting out earlier in asking people to share their pledges to vote. In addition, over the coming weeks we'll be working with other partners on some unique and fun ways to engage internet users.

Think about it: If you're an Internet user, you're already pretty familiar with the need to register to use your favorite websites. And you're also probably voting pretty often on those sites, by rating things or upvoting links. So why not make sure you're registered to vote on the most important site of all--your polling place on Election Day?

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