In an effort to save money, five cash-strapped states have temporarily shut down all their voting precincts, opting instead to allow voters to decide elections through Facebook.
Between now and election day in November, voters in California, Florida, Illinois, Michigan and New York simply have to roll out of bed and click the Like button for their favorite candidate. The concept, officials say, is quite simple--the candidate with the most likes wins the election. Not that different from the current system, they say.
"In this tough economic environment we have to be creative if we want to survive," said Debra Bowen, California's Secretary of State. "Whenever you're on a budget you have to trim the fat--get rid of whatever is absolutely not necessary. With phenomenon like Facebook, things like polling places are becoming obsolete."
While no exact dollar amount has been addressed, officials in all five deadbeat states assure voters that the cost-cutting measures are necessary and will eventually yield high benefits.
"It's unusual," admits Jesse White, Illinois' Secretary of State. "But when you rarely get more than 15 percent of the electorate inside a polling place during a mid-term election, you can't act all surprised when the state decides to stop hosting the Voting Party."
Officials in other states are taking a wait-and-see approach before deciding to ax the whole electoral system.
Candidates in the five states said they were surprised by the decision to close polling places and it has left many of them scrambling to open Facebook accounts.
Rich Whitney, Green party candidate running for Governor of Illinois, said he started a Facebook page weeks before any final decision was made.
"We heard rumors of what was being planned," Whitney said. "I don't think many of us are use to campaigning like this but sometimes you have to think outside the box."
And how will he judge the success of the plan?
"For me, success will be if my status says winner on November 2," he said.
For some, the notion of election through Facebook seems like the ultimate in finance campaign reform. With candidates spending more time trying to woo their Faceful base, some fear that will leave less time, money and need for lobbyists and TV ads.
"This isn't a good idea," said one anonymous campaign adviser, who vowed to start a Facebook page against the Facebook election. "How are we suppose to feed our families? Shouldn't somebody been looking out for us?"
Voters, for their part, seem nonplussed by the change.
"I probably won't vote anyway," said Deborah Wessex. "I don't like politicians so I really can't force myself to click the like button."
Jake Miller says he's out of work now because of the precinct closures.
"I've been a pollster for over thirty years," said Miller, 64, "and now I gotta tell my grand kids about the good ol' days when there use to be voting precincts. It makes me sad and I'm gonna miss the few extra bucks I would've made waiting for people not to show."
And what would he say on the Facebook Election page?
"I'd tell them the idea sucks," he said. "That I don't like it. But I can't 'cause they don't have a button for that."