MySpace Launches Voter-Registration Plan
By ANICK JESDANUN
The Associated Press
Wednesday, September 27, 2006; 7:56 AM
NEW YORK -- The youth-heavy online hangout MySpace.com is launching a voter-registration drive to engage its members in civics. In partnership with the nonpartisan group Declare Yourself, MySpace is running ads on its highly trafficked Web site and giving members tools such as a "I Registered To Vote On MySpace" badge to place on their personal profile pages.
"Young people in this country ... are really engaged in what's happening in their community and want to make a difference," said Jeff Berman, MySpace's senior vice president for public affairs. "The key is to make it easy for them to get engaged. By putting these tools on MySpace and putting it in front of their eyes, you make it far more likely they will use them."
News Corp.'s MySpace is the leading online social-networking site, in which users stay connected by adding others as "friends" and expanding their networks by meeting friends of their friends. MySpace offers message boards, Web journals and other free features its members can use to circulate links for video and other items they like.
Berman said the company was hoping its users would use such tools to encourage friends to register. He acknowledged MySpace was late in launching a voter-registration drive, but said he still hoped "thousands upon thousands of MySpacers will register to vote and spread the word."
Election Day is Nov. 7, and many states close voter registration up to a month before that.
To register, members simply go to http://www.myspace.com/declareyourself and enter a state or ZIP code. After entering the requested information, the site generates a PDF file that can be printed and mailed to state election officials. A Spanish version also is available.
Although MySpace has a heavy youth population, about 80 percent of its 114 million registered members are old enough to vote, according to the Los Angeles-based company.
MySpace is not alone trying to register Americans, particular youths voting for the first time. A San Francisco-based nonprofit group called Mobile Voter offers a service for people to register via cell-phone text messaging.
Political campaigns themselves have also been turning to MySpace and similar sites to reach supporters, with many candidates creating profile pages they hope users would further circulate.
On the Net:
Election Assistance Commission: http://eac.gov
National Association of Secretaries of State vote site: http://www.canivote.org