State election officials credited social media giant Facebook for prompting nearly 10,000 Nebraska voters to register online over the weekend.
On Friday, Facebook posted nationwide registration reminders on the news feeds of users 18 and older. The posts included a link to the federal website vote.USA.gov, which directs visitors to online registration sites in their home states.
About 6,800 people registered through Nebraska’s online portal on Friday, Secretary of State John Gale said. In comparison, 378 voters had registered online the previous day.
Nearly 3,000 additional voters registered on Saturday and Sunday, Gale said in a press release. The weekend registrations represent a mixture of new voters and those who updated their information.
The total number also would include some not prompted by Facebook, but officials have no way to filter those out, said Laura Strimple, Gale’s spokeswoman. Nor would they know how many people saw the message and walked into their county election offices and signed up.
A total of 1,178,020 voters had registered in Nebraska as of Sept. 1, Strimple said. Almost 39,000 registered through the Secretary of State’s online portal, called NEReg2Vote, and nearly 74,000 more registered through the DMV website.
Nearly 40 percent of the online registrations were Republicans and 32 percent were Democrats. Nonpartisan voters made up 26 percent, with Libertarians making up the final 2 percent of online registrations.
Gale has predicted that the state could see a record number of 1,185,000 registered voters for the Nov. 8 election.
Nebraska began allowing voters to register online for the first time a year ago. The DMV online option was added in January. As for getting out the vote via social media, the effort marks the first time Facebook has pushed voter registration in a general election. It launched a similar campaign during this year’s primary election in a limited number of states. Facebook says that campaign resulted in 1.5 million registrations during primary season, according to a report in USA Today.
Also on Tuesday, the Secretary of State began mailing ballots to military members and other early voters who requested them. Voters can start casting early ballots in county election offices on Oct. 10, although some offices will be closed that day for Columbus Day.
The deadline to register to vote online or via mail is Oct. 21, Strimple said. The deadline to register in election offices is Oct. 28.