Analysis

Google Search Provides Election Information—Instantly

Google is showing voters what’s on their ballots and where to vote.

From now until Election Day, when a user types “vote,” “where do I vote,” or other variations into the Google search engine, a box appears indicating when polls open, where to vote early, voter identification requirements, and who and what is on the ballot, based on the user’s location, as well as helpful hyperlinks to outside resources that contain additional information. Voters can also type in an address to find specific polling locations.

The information provided through the search engine is created through the Voting Information Project (VIP), a partnership between The Pew Charitable Trusts, Google, and state election officials. The same election data populates Get to the Polls.com and VIP’s embeddable Voting Information Tool.  VIP works to connect voters in all 50 states and the District of Columbia with the election information they need to cast a ballot on or before Election Day. 

Google is providing voting information earlier than in previous election years. The company has been offering this service as part of its search engine since 2012, when its Politics and Elections site offered political news, a live election hub to watch party conventions, and an online guide to assist citizens with voting. But this year’s box launched Oct. 13, more than three weeks before Election Day, in part to accommodate states that have early voting options. 

In addition, Google continues to improve the ease and accessibility of its searchable voting information. For 2016, rather than leading users to appropriate sites with voting information, the search engine now provides all the information directly.

Alexis Schuler is the senior director and Monica Leibovitz is an officer for election initiatives at The Pew Charitable Trusts.

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