Thursday, November 10, 2011

Social Media on Election Day

Washington is an all mail-in ballot state. This means that voters have a couple of weeks to sit around their kitchen tables and ponder their ballots. Now on the whole I favor this system because it pretty clearly drives up voter turnout by making the process so much easier.

However as a political news junkie, I am against it because it makes election night so much less fun. Instead of anxiously watching television news as they report precinct by precinct as the results come pouring in after the polls close we get to huddle around our laptops feverishly clicking refresh to see if the Secretary of State released the results.


They don't even update that often, so at 8:15pm last night the fun was pretty much over.

But in the lead up to the release of the first round of ballots that came in, social media does still have a role to play. As you might expect, I follow a lot of organizations and people who posted to Facebook on election day. And as I have posted about before, I was anticipating seeing one giant chunk of truncated and summarized status updates like this:

But instead of seeing everyone who posted about "election day" clumped together, I was pleasantly surprised to see more of this:

The League of Education Voters is doing their homework when it comes to what works and what doesn't when it comes to using social media when you know there will be a lot of other people posting about the same thing. They used a photo and capitalized on Facebook's tendency to display photos very widely and thus expanded the reach of their post and connected with more of their fans, some of whom might have forgot about their ballot.

Posting information about ballot drop box locations can be one of the most helpful things you as a candidate can do, but that doesn't mean Facebook cares. It is still going to lump you in with everyone else who tried to do the voting public a service:

I really disagree with the Washington Policy Center on almost everything, but advertising your suggestions for how to vote on what is normally a bewildering number of initiatives is always a good idea:

King 5 also does a good job with their social media and asking Facebook questions is great way to drive engagement on your page and increase your fan base:

So overall election night is now a lot less fun. But on the bright side, the mail-in balloting system basically drags out election day over three weeks so we political nerds will just have to enjoy the suspense of election season over a few weeks instead of a few hours.

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