Facebook Enters the Polls: Voting Button Goes International

Source: Thinkstock

Source: Thinkstock

Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) is getting into politics again. This year is going to be big politically due to high profile elections in the United States and many other countries. To mark this year of political contests, Facebook is bringing back its “I’m a voter,” button for the civically minded Facebook user.

When it returns for individual users, it will depend on where they live. The button has already shown up this year in India’s elections. About 4 million Indian voters clicked that button during elections. European Union and Columbian Facebook users will see it return since those elections are soon, reported British newspaper The Telegraph. South Korea, Indonesia, Sweden, Scotland, New Zealand, Brazil, and the United States will see the option return later this year when their respective elections take place.

Facebook first introduced the “I’m a voter” button in November 2008 for the American Election Day. Reuters reported that over 9 million Americans used the button during that Election Day. This time, the button is going international, meaning users outside the United States will get to brag that they voted with more than just a status update.

The Economic Times reported that approximately 400 million users will be able to access the “I’m a voter” button at some point this year. On Election Day, this flood of “I voted” buttons helped increase voter turnout by more than 340,000 voters in the United States 2010 midterm elections, said a study. Seeing all those buttons on Facebook is a good way to get people to vote.

It’s not the first time a new Facebook feature helped increase numbers. After Facebook added the option to list organ donor status, the number of organ donors increased significantly. It seems that adding the ability to talk about it on Facebook increases the odds of someone actually doing it.

In democratic systems all over the world, getting people to go to their polling places and vote is part of the problem. Facebook’s new feature helps with that in a non-partisan way by adding the peer pressure of seeing that friends, co-workers, and family members voted. It’s a social media version of those “Get out to vote” calls and public service announcements that flood the media in the United States before an election.

Facebook’s feature is very non-partisan. The option is a simple “I voted,” although it may be easy to guess who a Facebook user voted for based on other content on a profile page. The feature does seem to have a catch. It is only for the general elections, so if any user who wants to brag about voting in a primary, they will have to do it the old fashioned way with a Facebook status.

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