- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 4, 2014

On Tuesday, millions of Facebook users logged on to their accounts to see a little app at the top of their feed, asking people if they were voters, and that app has been proven to increase voter turnout, the New Republic reports.

By clicking a button, users could post a status announcing they were “voting in the U.S. 2014 General Election.” The status linked to an app used for locating polling places.

Facebook launched a similar app for the November 2010 election, and the data from those who posted the voting status was cross-referenced with real voter data to see who actually turned up at the polls, the news website reports.

But does posting a status really increase voter turnout? Researchers found that it did.

“Overall, users notified of their friends’ voting were 0.39 percent more likely to vote than those in the control group, and any resulting decisions to cast a ballot also appeared to ripple to the behavior of close Facebook friends, even if those people hadn’t received the original message. That small increase in turnout rates amounted to a lot of new votes. The researchers concluded that their Facebook graphic directly mobilized 60,000 voters and, thanks to the ripple effect, ultimately caused an additional 340,000 votes to be cast that day,” explained the New Republic.

While that may no seem like a lot, researchers were quick to remind the news site that George W. Bush won Florida in the 2000 presidential election by 537 votes — so 340,0000 votes in the right area could be enough to swing an election.

• Jennifer Pompi can be reached at jpompi@washingtontimes.com.

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