[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/18/art.fbvotereg0918.fb.jpg caption="The McCain and Obama camps have both launched efforts to get users of Facebook to register to vote."]
(CNN) – Election Day is still weeks away but both presidential campaigns are already ramping up their voter registration and turnout operations.
The McCain and Obama campaigns are both encouraging their supporters to make sure they’re registered to vote and to request absentee ballots. The push is taking place through e-mail and the campaigns’ Web site and even through new applications on Facebook which both campaigns have debuted in the last day.
“We need your help more than ever,” the Obama campaign said in a Facebook update Thursday which touted an updated version of the campaign’s application on the popular social networking site. The revised application is now headlined by a large module that allows users to check whether they are registered to vote, to request an absentee ballot, and to locate their polling place. The new module replicates functionality available on a Web site launched by the Obama campaign soon after the Republican convention.
The Obama camp’s effort to encourage registration and absentee voting on Facebook comes less than a day after the McCain camp rolled out its own application on the site to encourage its supporters to vote early or obtain absentee ballots.
“Now more than ever, your vote is critical,” the McCain-Palin update said. “Voting early, or with an absentee ballot, is the best way to avoid the long line on Election Day and get your vote counted.” The new McCain application takes users to a page on the campaign’s Web site where they can fill out a form to request an absentee ballot or register to vote.
The camps’ two new applications are only the latest in increasing efforts by both sides to utilize Facebook to spread their message and galvanize their supporters. Thursday, the McCain camp also premiered a Facebook application dedicated to Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, McCain’s popular running mate. The new Palin application appears to function as a link from a user’s profile to Palin’s Facebook fan page. The McCain camp also recently launched “McCain Live,” an application which allows supporters to watch live, streaming video of McCain-Palin campaign events from their Facebook profiles.
Having already established a substantial presence on the social networking site through its original application, the Obama campaign now appears to be trying to leverage its base of more than a million supporters on Facebook into grassroots foot soldiers. Since Obama formally accepted the Democratic nomination, his campaign has encouraged supporters on Facebook to sign-up for a number of affinity fan pages targeted to women; veterans; gays/lesbians; various ethnic/racial groups and to supporters interested in spreading the messages of the “Obama Action Wire,” the campaign’s fact-checking operation. In addition, the Obama campaign is also encourage supporters to establish connections on Facebook to fan pages the campaign has established for various states.
With nearly 1.9 million supporters, Sen. Obama continues to lead in the fan count on Facebook. His running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, currently has roughly 52,000 supporters on the site. By contrast, Sen. McCain’s Facebook supporters now number approximately 340,000 while Gov. Palin currently has about 216,000 supporters on the social networking site.