How Google, Facebook and Tumblr are trying to increase voter turnout

Many popular websites are encouraging you to vote this Election Day by helping you find your local polling place and even showing you a sample ballot. Google, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and more have collaborated on "Get to the Polls," an initiative with the goal of providing voters with information vital to performing their civic duty.

The "Get to the Polls" website uses the Google Civic Information API to find the closest polling place to your registered voting address. You can also look at the candidates running in your state and district. The website was created by the Voting Information Project as one of the many efforts to properly inform citizens about the voting process. VIP is a collaboration between Google and The Pew Charitable Trusts that started when Pew published a report that found that "although millions of people went online in search of answers to their questions about the general election, no standardized, reliable source existed for voters to obtain basic Election Day information."

Individual sites are also doing their part to get out the vote. Facebook has a button reminding people to vote at the top of their news feed, and lets users share that they've voted as a status update. Tumblr has a similar reminder, and those who say they've voted are given a patriotic hat icon on their profile pic. Google, of course, has a ballot box Google doodle to commemorate the day, and gives state-specific results for questions such as "where do I vote," "how do I vote," and "who is on my ballot."

Social media is a popular place to share opinions about political issues, and many people visit these sites every day. A simple message prompting users to vote could be very effective, especially for the midterm elections when voter turnout is usually lower. A study conducted after the 2010 midterm elections showed that a voting reminder on Facebook led to 340,000 more votes throughout the country. It's good to see these websites making the effort to increase voter turnout, as long as they remain neutral towards candidates.

Not to be outdone, Kim Kardashian also wants you to vote. She tweeted a picture yesterday of her avatar from her smartphone game standing next to an avatar of Barack Obama. So if Facebook can't convince you to vote, maybe Kim K. can.

Image Credit: Ken Zirkel/Flickr

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