- Associated Press - Friday, October 31, 2014

GRANTS PASS, Ore. (AP) - The campaign to legalize marijuana in Oregon has more than simply “liked” a Facebook app that helps people nag their friends to be sure they cast their ballots.

It has made it part of the drive to get voters - especially younger ones - to vote in favor of Measure 91.

Time will tell whether it is effective, “but my intuition says, ‘Yes,’ ” former Portland Mayor Sam Adams said.

Adams is not part of the Yes on 91 campaign, but he has endorsed the measure and sent an email blast this week urging people to go to DidTheyVote.org and apply the app to their Facebook page.

Sarah Duff is a clerk in a Portland health care clinic and a volunteer with Yes on 91. At the urging of the campaign, after she does an evening shift on the phone bank calling voters, she checks her Facebook page to see which of her friends have voted. She sends a message to those who have not done so.

“This kind of app is great because it helps me do all the things I would do anyway, which is remind my friends to vote,” she said.

The idea was developed for the 2012 elections by a Worcester, Massachusetts, company called Fight for the Future. Founder Tiffiniy Cheng said that program would only show people if their friends were registered or had pledged to vote, and allowed users to send a Facebook message to friends who had not done so. Since then, the app has been cloned by campaigns around the world, but the company does not maintain it, she said.

The progressive political consulting firm Winning Mark in Portland heard about it and put together an Oregon-specific website for this election, which any campaign can urge voters to use, co-owner Mark Wiener said.

The idea works especially well in vote-by-mail states like Oregon, where election day is three weeks long, he added.

“One of the things that all these folks on our side of the aisle have in common is the belief that when more people vote, good things happen,” Wiener said. “That is especially true of young people in off-year elections. As people started to get their minds around what they could do with this stuff, there was a lot of simultaneous enthusiasm.”

Users have to open up their Facebook privacy settings, but Wiener says Winning Mark does not mine the data.

A leaderboard on DidTheyVote.org shows more than 230 people using it Friday, including some from other campaigns, like a measure to require labeling of genetically modified foods. Adams leads with 175 friends messaged, representing 77 percent of his friends. More than three-quarters have messaged fewer than 10 friends.

The progressive political coalition Our Oregon buys the daily Oregon Secretary of State’s Office reports on who has voted, and it makes the data available to DidTheyVote.org, Our Oregon executive director Ben Unger said.

Political campaigns since time immemorial have figured out who has voted and urged those who haven’t to vote, Wiener said. “That really is all we are doing here. What DidTheyVote.org is doing is making that information technologically much more easy for average folks to use,” he said.

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