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More Facebook Users Have Already "I Voted" Today Than in '08

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, November 2 2010

As of a few moments ago, more than 6.2 million people had clicked on Facebook's "I Voted" button for election day 2010.

And that means that more people have done so already today, a mid-term election day and with several voting hours left to go, than did during the whole of the high-profile 2008 election contest, when, according to a company rep, some 5.4 million people self-reported that they'd cast a ballot.

The "I Voted" button appears on Facebook for any U.S.-based users over 18, the voting age, and clicking on it adds a virtual red, white, and blue "Vote" button to a user's wall. "Campaigns across the country are using Facebook to communicate authentically with voters as well as organize supporters in ways unimaginable a decade ago," said Facebook's Andrew Noyes when asked to comment.

But really, it's kinda unimaginable just one election cycle ago. Why the growth? One major reason is that Facebook's user base is simply far bigger than it was way back in the old days when Barack Obama was running for President. Facebook users tally some 500 million today; at about the same time Sarah Palin was nominated as John McCain's running mate Facebook was just breaking the 100 million mark.

But, more anecdotally, we're also seeing an expansion in people's expectation that voting is meant to be a social experience, something that they share with their family, friends, and strangers -- whether on Facebook, Foursquare, or Twitter. A healthy handful of campaigns have texted or emailed me already today asking me to tell them if I'd voted already, with not so much as a nod to the idea that I might have an expectation of privacy about that sort of thing. One useful thing to look for come tomorrow or so will be how the final tally of how many people said on Facebook that they'd voted compares to actual voter turnout, which is always considerably less than it is during presidential election years.

As for Foursquare's voting tracker, some 25,000 people have checked in thus far. That's, obviously, far fewer people than have done the similar thing on Facebook. But the flip side is that Foursquare's data is somewhat richer, with publicly available information on the voter's gender, time they voted, and polling place.