Wednesday, April 01, 2015


Hawaii to allow Facebook voting by 2020

If you want to vote the Democratic ballot, “like” the donkey. For the Republican ballot, “like” the elephant.

by Larry Geller

HONOLULU April 1, 2015—Hawaii is poised to become the first state to allow voting by Facebook starting in 2020.

Leadership in the state House revealed a plan to skip proposed all-mail-in voting in favor of technology that they believe will drastically increase the state’s abysmal voter turnout while slashing the cost of elections.

voting machineWhile two bills currently advancing, SB287 and HB124, both require the Office of Elections to implement voting by mail at a county level, the new plan would make them unnecessary.

The mail-in bills recognize that in the 2014 elections more early votes were cast than there were election day walk-ins, and that 83 percent of the early birds voted by mail. But still, of Hawaii residents eligible to vote, only 36.5 percent actually did so.

By some reports as many as 71% of online adults use Facebook, including the younger demographic that often skips voting entirely. Since they already spend most of their waking day staring at or poking the screens of their smartphones, asking them to take just a moment to vote should work well.

They wouldn’t even have to log out of Facebook to do their civic duty. Nor would they need to take time off from work to stand in line at a precinct. The polling place would be in their pockets.

Already there are young people who never purchase postage stamps or mail letters. “By 2020,” speculated Rep. Calvin Soy, “people will no longer know how to write their home address correctly on an envelope.”

A mockup screen suggests that the methodology would potentially overcome many obstacles that multi-ethnic Hawaii experiences, such as language barriers to understanding a printed ballot. Nearly everyone should be able to handle a graphic interface, and the Facebook logon makes it all very automatic.

If you want to vote the Democratic ballot, “like” the donkey. For the Republican ballot, “like” the elephant. And so on, moving through until the final screen.

So the state legislature is planning to gut one of the mail-voting bills and replace it with language that would permit Facebook voting starting with the 2020 elections.

The language will be inserted into one of the mail-in bills by Sylvia Like, Chair of the House Finance Committee, who has extensive experience with “gut and replace.”

The bill would replace the current Office of Elections with a non-profit corporation similar to the Hawaii Health Connector. The non-partisan non-profit would be charged with creating the software to interface national, state and county election systems with Facebook.

“Who knows if there will even be a post office in 2020,” speculated Sen. Sam Slam. “We Republicans, well, I Republican, will be the first to applaud its demise.”


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