By samoore (1251644872|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)
In the last U.S. Presidential Election, 64% of the U.S. population 18 and older voted. That's up from the 60% of the eligible voting population that voted in the 2000 Presidential. That's great, but what about all those people who aren't voting? According to the2004 U.S. Census, the number one reason (20%) for not voting was being "too busy" with work or school. Google has a solution to this problem- Vote Hour.
In efforts to increase voter turnout this election, Google CEO Eric Schmidt has asked other CEOs of companies and presidents of universities all across the United States to create short videos and upload them to YouTube to encourage their employees and/or students to get out and vote. You can also check out the Vote Hour website. You can search for your company or university to see if there is a video clip from the CEO or president. If you cannot find your university or place of employment, the site provides an option to send a form email to your boss to encourage him or her to participate. The site also has an option for bosses to create videos and upload them.
Watch University of Michigan President Mary Sue Colman Support Vote Hour:
The site also uses an application of Google Maps called US Voter Info to allow voters to find their polling location. You type in your home address and Google Maps will pin point where your polling location is in comparison to your house and allows you to get directions if you need them. It also provides information on a state by state basis on early voting and voting by absentee ballot. If you are not sure if you are registered to vote, Google provides links to check if you are registered in the state based on your address. It also gives information on how to become registered in that state. The state's voter hotline is provided as well.
Google Election 2008
Too busy to check it out online? Google 2008 Election has an application that lets you get the latest election news on your phone: including the latest election news, voter information by state and you can find your voting location. All you need to do is type your phone number into the Google Mobile Application and it will send a text message to your phone with further instructions. You can also do this by visiting m.google.com/elections from your phone. The service is provided free from Google.
The site provides a section called "Explore the American Political Landscape" which uses various Google applications and tools to allow people to learn more about the candidates that are running for the U.S. Presidency.
- You Choose '08 is a YouTube site that allows voters to check out campaign ads, candidate speeches and the presidential and vice presidential debates. For example, if you wanted to know where Independent Candidate Ralph Nader stood on helping the homeless you could view a clip of him speaking on that issue at You Choose '08. The different candidates get their own section where you can search for clips with them speaking about the issue you want to find out more information.
- You can use Google Earth to check out historical election results. You must download Google Earth first, and then again download the historical information. The maps show how the population has voted in past presidential elections from 1980 through 2004, and include election results at both the state and county levels. This information can be further broken down as the maps also include demographic information. The demographic information is provided by information from the 1980, 1990, and 2000 US Census.
- You can use Google Maps- Election Map Gallery. These provide maps from Twitter, Huffington Post Headquarters map, National Almanac Map, and several different maps the chart out the different Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate's path from birth to the race for the presidency.
- You can use the Twitter Election Map to watch different parts of the world discuss politics. The messages pop up in real time from all over the world. Users can comment on anything regarding the election or just current political news. It's interesting to be able to check out what other people all over the world are saying about the U.S. presidential election in real time. It can help you keep up with the different political trends as they happen instead of reading about them in the polls or election news outlets.
- Palin's Journey/Biden's Journey/Obama's Journey/McCain's Journey: these maps all show the path each Presidential and Vice Presidential candidate has taken up until this point. It charts out all major events in the candidate's life including: birth, high school, college, etc etc. It does this over Google Map output. You can choose to look at the map view, the satellite view or a hybrid view. At each point along the way there is a blurb with a fact about that point in the candidate's life. You can click autoplay and go through the chart or you can click through it yourself. You can also pause if you need more time to read the information provided.
- Do not have time to catch what the candidates are saying as they sweep across the country one last time before the election? Check out the various video clips map. For example, if you for some reason want to know what a candidate said in Colorado, for example, you can always check out the candidate's video map. It provides video clips of speeches on a per state basis.
- Wouldn't you like to know what experts are saying about key election issues? Knol provides access to their thoughts and opinions by having experts from leading think tanks including the Cato Institute, the Economic Policy Institute, the Heritage Foundation, and the Center for American Progress Action Fund debate key policy issues.
- This site has been around for awhile, but the Knol debate project is fairly new. It is a site that hosts many knols (or units of knowledge). The authors of the knols can take credit for their writing, provide credentials, and elicit reviews and comments. Anyone can share their thoughts and opinions on the debates by posting comments or questions.
- Is there something in the election that is really important to you, but it is not currently being debated? The site offers the option to suggest your own new topics for debates. Also, you should check out the debates on topics that are already posted. For example, if you wanted to learn more information on the bailout package you could check out the debate on the bailout. It's in its closing argument stage!
This forum is a good way to see what the experts are saying and what the rebuttals are to those arguments. The debates progress slowly; however, and I could see people losing interest quickly or forgetting to go back to the site to check the progress of the arguments.
Some concluding thoughts:
There are many different ramifications of Google’s efforts to increase election awareness. Twenty percent of people that did not vote in the last election cited reasons such as work or school for not voting. To combat this Google is promoting Vote Hour. By collaborating with CEOs and university presidents around the United States, people have less of an excuse not to vote, but just voting is not quite enough.
Google is providing the tools with their election website making it possible for more and more voters to become educated. It is providing different forums for people to express themselves and get involved with the election without actually having to join a political campaign. Also, maybe reading the newspaper just isn't for you. Before you had the traditional sources for getting news: papers, magazines, the radio and tv newscasts. People have been able to get their news from the web for awhile now, but this brings a wealth of different sources of news and opinions to one spot, and because of the variety of types of news sources (interactive news maps, speech archives, articles, debate forums etc) it has something that will interest everyone. It is also helpful in that it puts the facts together for you. Busy students and employees do not always have the time to aggregate all the news stories and facts about the candidates. That way everyone can become an informed voter. The use of the internet has really changed the way many of us get our news, but now there hopefully is something that will pique everyone's interest.