With Election Day just a few months away, voters need to start thinking about important things like registration, up-to-date identification, absentee ballots, and all of the confusing and convoluted steps that go into casting a vote for the next president of the United States. For the average American, it can be quite overwhelming to figure out how registration varies from state to state, and what voters need to be prepared. Fortunate, Google has stepped up to the plate and offered their help.
One of the main things that makes internet giant Google so incredibly powerful is that the massive, unadulterated data the search engine gathers allows users to explore what people as a whole are interested in. Now, Google is using all of this data to make it easier for Americans to vote in the upcoming November presidential election.
Google hopes to spur interest in voting this year
Starting this week, Google is now providing a summary box at the top of search results which detail state voting laws. Whenever a user appears to be looking for that information by searching something like “how to vote in Arizona,” or “how to I register to vote,” Google will provide concise and relevant information at the at the top of the page. The information breakdown will focus on the rules particular to the state where the search request originates unless a search asks for another specific location.
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Google has introduced this how-to-vote instructional feature a month after in unveiled a similar feature in which the search engine explained how to register to vote in states across the United States.
The search engine giant has partnered with Perkins Cole, an international law firm, to compile the information to make a comprehensive and in-depth online search tool that catalogues state-by-state data regarding registration forms, voter deadlines, and even “how to vote” questions, which include poll hours and identification requirements.
“We’ve been putting significant resources behind driving voter turnout,” said Emily Moxely, the Google employee in charge of the addition of this feature. “We’re developing a whole new suite of tools that make the registration process easier and more accessible to everyone.” Additionally, Google is making this information available online, allowing other companies and organizations to help in spreading it. Users only have to fill out a form to access the data.
Voting interest has drastically increased
The company has seen an increase in public interest in this year’s upcoming presidential election, according to Google Trends data. Search interest for “voter registration” has increased 130 percent, while interest for general election-related content has increased 323 percent when compared to this point in 2012, the last general presidential election.
Since the Republican and Democratic national conventions, “voter registration” search terms have increased up to 190 percent. These increases in searches for voting information are certainly a good thing. In the 2012 election around 93 million eligible Americans did not vote, and this is something that Google and voting organizations are attempting to change.
Google is not the first online service that has tried to influence and increase the amount of voters. For example, during the November 2010 midterm election, Facebook posted a “get out the vote” message in the news feeds of more than 60 million people using the social network. This effort boosted voter turnout by more than 340,000 people, a University of California at San Diego study estimated.
However voters might feel about the candidates during this year’s ridiculous political season, more people than ever are engaged online politically, and Google’s new offering of voter-friendly tools may help the technology giant take the confusion out of what really matters this year: the voting process itself.