A group of former Hillary Clinton campaign staffers is asking Facebook to expand its election alerts to include local races in time for a crucial Louisiana run-off election this month.
The Clinton staffers formed a nonprofit called Flippable in the wake of their party’s crushing losses in November, in order to inform and organize Democrats around state and local races. They are hoping to win back some of the more than 1,000 seats in state legislatures that Democrats have lost around the country since 2010 and to reclaim U.S. House and Senate seats they’ve ceded to Republicans as well.
Chris Walsh, a founder of Flippable who was the Clinton campaign’s Ohio regional out-of-state coordinator, said Facebook will consider their request if they are able to demonstrate a popular “outpouring of support.” The group has started a petition to prove that Facebook users would like to be reminded of local elections.
“Getting it done before Louisiana would be incredible,” Walsh said. “I’m not sure it would swing the election, but it’s a great way to start getting people involved.”
A Facebook spokesman would not comment on whether it was specifically considering Flippable’s request to remind voters about Louisiana’s Senate race and other nonpresidential elections. But the spokesman did acknowledge that the company might expand its election reminders to local races in the future. “As we continue to look for ways to encourage participation, we are exploring how we can increase awareness for local elections,” a spokesman said in a statement.
If Democrats win the long-shot Louisiana run-off election on Dec. 10, they would trail Republicans by only one seat in the Senate, 49-51, making it easier for them to oppose the all-GOP Congress and White House. Democratic candidate Foster Campbell has raised $2.5 million in the four-week period that included the election, as Democrats both in and outside Louisiana have sought to bolster his bid. Turnout tends to be low for elections that are not held in November, so Campbell’s chances could be significantly enhanced with Facebook’s help.
Facebook has reminded its more than 190 million American users about upcoming presidential elections and allowed them to share with their friends the fact that they have voted since 2008. During the 2016 election, Facebook unveiled a new feature directing users to a page where they could register to vote. This led to 2 million new voter registrations, according to the company’s internal data. Meanwhile, more than 10.5 million users shared on Facebook that they voted this Election Day.
“I think they have a duty to use their platform for good in a totally nonpartisan way,” Walsh said. “This is just about giving people more information and helping them enfranchise themselves.”
The social media giant has been in the crosshairs after the election as critics pointed out that false stories generated by fake news sites were shared more on Facebook than stories about the election from legitimate news sites in the final weeks before the election. Facebook is reportedly testing out “warnings” to label fake news to its users.