Lawerence Denney

Idaho Secretary of State Lawerence Denney

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BOISE — Six Republican secretaries of state, including Idaho’s Lawerence Denney, asked Facebook earlier this fall to discontinue a “one-stop shop” voter guide that’s helped 4.4 million users register to vote.

Facebook’s Voting Information Center, launched in August, is a webpage meant to provide “accurate and easy-to-find information about voting,” and to empower users “to hold their elected officials accountable,” according to a blog post from the social media company.

The tool has helped 4.4 million people register to vote in the U.S., according to Facebook. That number surpassed the company’s 4 million-person target. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg called the effort the “largest voting information campaign in American history.”

In September, six Republican secretaries of state — in Idaho, Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and West Virginia — sent a letter to Zuckerberg, urging the technology mogul to shut down the guide, as first reported by Buzzfeed News. The letter, which was shared with the Idaho Press by the Idaho Secretary of State’s office, argued election officials alone are “legally and morally responsible to our citizens” and Facebook has “no such accountability.”

“While such goals may be laudable on their face, the reality is that the administration of elections is best left to the states,” read the letter. “The Voting Information Center is redundant and duplicative of what we, as chief election officials, have been doing for decades.”

Denney did not return phone calls from the Idaho Press on Monday.

The Voter Information Center provides information such as ballot drop-off locations and deadlines, and it links to state-specific voter registration tools. The information center is available on Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.

The letter also argued when election information is provided by a third party “the opportunity for misinformation and confusion increases.” Information on Idaho’s page did not appear to be incorrect as of Monday.

Jesse Littlewood, vice president for campaigns at Common Cause, told Buzzfeed News the letter is a “remarkable” attempt to “strong-arm Facebook.”

“It’s troubling to see those overseeing elections try to stop what appears to be a successful project to register voters,” he said.

Ryan Suppe is the Boise reporter for the Idaho Press. Contact him at 208-344-2055 (ext. 3038). Follow him on Twitter @salsuppe.

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