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Google News Politics

Google Gets Into Politics With Civic Info API 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the click-the-vote dept.
mikejuk writes "The new Google Civic Information API can be used to look up comprehensive voting information for particular addresses in the U.S. such as the polling place, early vote sites, contests, and local election official contact information. At the moment the API is limited to voting information for elections in the U.S., but Google plans to expand the support to cover other countries and include other types of civic information. Google plans to use the API to power their own election tools, including an embeddable app anyone can use on their site."
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Google Gets Into Politics With Civic Info API

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  • no not that, google enters politics with a polling locator!

    • by Samantha Wright (1324923) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:15AM (#41485251) Homepage Journal
      Considering how many robocall campaigns have been unleashed on Americans during the past few elections to purposefully mislead groups of voters about where polling stations are, this is a pretty important service. I just hope they get it to other countries soon, too—the Conservative Party of Canada appears to have stolen the last election using such a tactic.
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Here in Germany, the location of the polling station is printed right on the paper which tells you are allowed to vote. That way, you know for sure it's authoritative information. And if that one should be wrong, you'll have a document to proof you were misled.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          Here, they only send the paper out if your poling location changed for whatever reason. You have to actually request one when you change your address if you move. Otherwise it si in the same place it was the year before.

      • by marka63 (1237718)

        Well here in Australia the polling stations (local schools, churches and town halls) don't change much from election to election (local, state and federal) and if you don't know where to vote the Electoral Commission's web site will tell you. Also since you are required register when you turn 18 and to attend a polling place every election this sort of disinformation campaign just doesn't happen here. You can also pre-vote, postal vote and absentee vote for all elections.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by cayenne8 (626475)

        Considering how many robocall campaigns have been unleashed on Americans during the past few elections to purposefully mislead groups of voters about where polling stations are, this is a pretty important service

        Look it is VERY simple. This year...to avoid the crowds and possibly having poles close before people can vote, this is how it is going down this year.

        Republicans (the challengers) vote on Tues Nov. 6, 2012

        Democrats (incumbents) vote on Wed Nov 7th, 2012

        Very simple....write it down, and make s

  • Don't get too attached to this new API, it will probably go the way of the Dodo in a couple years, judging by Google's track record.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Wait, this is insightful, there is a good point to make about Googles disappearing API's project that will hurt them in the long run, but the new political Google API is an interface that could make them a lot of money... Political influence in this API could keep the stock price from sliding...

  • by Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) on Friday September 28, 2012 @12:50AM (#41485353)

    I would not be surprised to see nominally politically neutral third party apps built on top of this interface that try to figure out what party you are likely to vote for via cross-referencing with various Big Data providers like BlueKai or Axciom and then, depending on which party commissioned the app, lying about polling place info (location, times, etc) or some other sort of dirty trick to discourage you from voting.

    A smart "political hack" would only show the bad information a couple of times, so as to make it harder to prove that anything nefarious had gone on.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      You mean with the app itself poisoning the results? I would imagine that enough people would complain about it that it would be at least suspect.

      The type of people who would use an app for purposed like this are the type who can easily find places to complain to. The app store who distributed it is a logical one, but facebook and others would be right up there too.

    • The better strategy would be to hope your opponent did something as nefarious as uou suggest so you could write a program that checks their misinformation against the correct known data. Instant proof of their desperation and disenfranchisement.

      The reasons why the current voter ID disenfranchisement will work is because it can make you look like you care about the integrity of the election and your opponent doesn't, while sabotaging the integrity of the election.

      "What do you mean you don't support vot
      • The better strategy would be to hope your opponent did something as nefarious as uou suggest so you could write a program that checks their misinformation against the correct known data. Instant proof of their desperation and disenfranchisement.

        As long as the disinformation only happens during a small window, like just on election day, then it wouldn't matter. The damage would be done long before any blowback could happen. Couple that with enough deniability - like having a Super PAC do it which are legally required to not be in coordination with the candidate - and even the blowback wouldn't hurt that much.

        • Then after that election we will be told about the previous day's blatant potentially legal 'fraud,' and collectively realize we all have woken up with a film of scum we potentially may never be able to remove.

          I'm not even sure it would be the first film of putrid crud, or if we're so covered we couldn't tell anymore anyway
      • by dkleinsc (563838)

        The preceding is applicable to Texas, where after having received two injunctions in one week vis a vis the Voting Rights Act, instead of amending the Voter ID law to allow free IDs to satisfy the federal judge, Texas appeals. Is it clear to everyone yet that when all the state republican partys made implementing Voter ID a priority, they cared more about disenfranchisement and making a poll tax not seem like a poll tax rather than lofty ideals like integrity and honor.

        Well, here in Ohio the hue and cry was over something a bit different, namely that in areas dominated by Republicans early voting was going to be held 7 days a week, while in Democratic-dominated areas early voting was going to be held weekdays only during work hours. The reason this could happen was that each county election board decides the rules for themselves, each board is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, and the Republican Ohio Secretary of State gets the tie-breaking vote.

        • The preceding is applicable to Texas, where after having received two injunctions in one week vis a vis the Voting Rights Act, instead of amending the Voter ID law to allow free IDs to satisfy the federal judge, Texas appeals. Is it clear to everyone yet that when all the state republican partys made implementing Voter ID a priority, they cared more about disenfranchisement and making a poll tax not seem like a poll tax rather than lofty ideals like integrity and honor.

          Well, here in Ohio the hue and cry was over something a bit different, namely that in areas dominated by Republicans early voting was going to be held 7 days a week, while in Democratic-dominated areas early voting was going to be held weekdays only during work hours. The reason this could happen was that each county election board decides the rules for themselves, each board is split evenly between Republicans and Democrats, and the Republican Ohio Secretary of State gets the tie-breaking vote.

          Beat this: in some Texas counties the DL office was only open the fifth Thursday of each month, putting people in a situation in which if they could only get an ID locally then they had four days a year.

          Seriously though, TWO injunctions by federal judges concerning the Voting Rights Act, a piece of legislation drafted to protect Texas's citizens from it's infamous previous treatment of minorities, particularly impoverished African Americans.

          I'm starting to suspect we made thirty years of progress rega

      • by Urza9814 (883915)

        At least in your state they try to disguise it. In Pennsylvania the state house Republican leader came out in a freakin' press event and, during a list of their accomplishments, included the statement "Voter ID, which is going to allow Governor Romney to win the state of Pennsylvania this November."

        Seriously. He flat-out said that the reason they fought for voter ID was to help Romney win.

        And for the record, there wasn't a single piece of evidence every brought forward showing even a single case of voter fr

    • by Sloppy (14984)

      Is there something in particular about Google's API that makes this more likely, or might your cynicism apply to any sort of voter precinct information source, interface, or service?

      I'd be a lot more concerned about the "disappearing API" concerns voiced by others. I love the basic idea here, but it'd be insane for any pro to invest effort in a client application which relies on this API. You're going to have to have a more reliable backup plan anyway, so why not just use that, and forget Google?

      • Is there something in particular about Google's API that makes this more likely, or might your cynicism apply to any sort of voter precinct information source, interface, or service?

        Nothing technically unique. Just the ability for such an app to appear more legit than an average voting info app by prominently advertising the fact that they use google's own services.

  • Buried Links (Score:5, Informative)

    by guttentag (313541) on Friday September 28, 2012 @01:06AM (#41485411) Journal
    TFA has lots of phantom links to drive their advertising revenue. Here are the links to the actual content we're talking about:

    As an aside, years ago I worked with Kiwanis (a community service organization) on an initiative to promote political awareness among high school kids. At first I was concerned that they were going to try to push a particular viewpoint or agenda, but they made it clear that as an organization, for the purposes of this initiative, they were completely agnostic about it. Their mandate was to get people involved, and informed, so they could make their own decisions, because that's how the system works best. The system fails when you have a few informed people and masses of uninformed people who just vote for the candidate they think is the most attractive. So if that is Google's intent (which is the impression I get), it's an honorable goal. And making the API available seems to be an effort to give more people the tools to pursue that goal.

    As long as Google doesn't start skewing the information (or, through a security hole, allows someone else to skew it), this is a good thing. There should be some sort of oversight to ensure that.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      Their mandate was to get people involved, and informed, so they could make their own decisions, because that's how the system works best. The system fails when you have a few informed people and masses of uninformed people who just vote for the candidate they think is the most attractive.

      So, if I'm reading this correctly, you said the Kiwanis were a community service group, so you probably want to vote for that community organizer guy rather than a hard-nosed businessman, and don't want the poor to just lie down and die if they can't get a job. Plus you want the system to work correctly, and any true conservative knows that government can never work well. This effort was clearly run by those liberal elites who think everyone should get a decent "education", which is actually a Communist ind

      • Is it sad that I'm not quite sure this is satire? Remove the bit about fluoridation, and I've actually heard exactly that by quite a few conservative politicians and radio hosts.

        • by dkleinsc (563838)

          That's why I included the bit about fluoridation, to try to make it clear it was in fact satire.

          Also, Poe's Law [rationalwiki.org].

        • The thing about fluoridation is that people used to really say that. So it made it into a certain famous movie, and now everyone knows it's a joke, so it's a special red flag for satire. But it's only a satire signal because it used to not be one.

          We have way more media today, than in 1963. Everything is faster. Why cannot everything become a satire signal, and therefore though dilution, nothing be a reliable satire signal? The time will come, that crackpots will not be creative enough to say something

  • bill=google.civics.findBill("SOPA").clone();
    while ((bill.isPending()) && (!bill.isPassed()))
    {
    senator=google.civics.randomSenator();
    senator.bribe(10000);

    }
  • But if this is run on iOS6 it might show total inaccuracies. The API might return valid voting locations if I put in the address of my local cemetery, or if I pass the API more than one address at a time. And we know that dead people can't vote, and that people can't vote more than once. Wait...what?

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