Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Google United States News

Google Launches Open Source Voter Information Tool 104

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the hitchiker's-guide-to-the-ballot dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Google announces a new Voter Information Tool which, as its name implies, can be used by voters to find relevant information such as where you can vote and for whom. The search giant is releasing the new feature just over a week in advance of the US Presidential Election on November 6. This raises the question: can Google influence the elections even more than it already does via lobbying?" I've found Ballotpedia useful as well.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Google Launches Open Source Voter Information Tool

Comments Filter:
  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:10AM (#41830511) Journal

    This raises the question: can Google influence the elections even more than it already does via lobbying?

    Could you explain to me how this tool raises that question? If you felt that Google was telling you to vote for Obama or Romney with this tool, which one was it because I didn't get a strong feeling for either ... it seems like they were just redisplaying CNN graphs and sending you to news articles. Take it up with the sites you land at and the popularity of their inflammatory headlines, not Google.

    When I beg my coworkers, friends and family to vote, I'm not telling them who to vote for nor do I want to know afterwards. I only ask them to inform themselves and hit the booths on November 6th. How is Google's tool any different than that?

    • by RiscIt (95258)

      Hey now! He/She's just asking the question. No harm can come from that, right [wikipedia.org]?

    • by devjoe (88696) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:34AM (#41830755)

      When I beg my coworkers, friends and family to vote, I'm not telling them who to vote for nor do I want to know afterwards. I only ask them to inform themselves and hit the booths on November 6th. How is Google's tool any different than that?

      It's the same, but on a larger scale. Though your coworkers, friends, and family may not vote the same way as you, because you share some part of your life with them, they are more likely to vote as you do than not to. So by encouraging them to vote when they might not have done so otherwise, you effectively increase your political power just a little.

      The same applies on a larger scale for Google. By providing this information to potential voters, they hope to encourage more voting, and voting by more informed voters. Whether this actually helps Google is not clear to me, but can it influence the election? Certainly.

      This is also why there is all the controversy over voter ID laws. [propublica.org] Voters without government ID cards are seen as more likely to vote Democratic, so Democrats are trying to prevent these laws from going into effect while Republicans support them.

      • by rvw (755107)

        When I beg my coworkers, friends and family to vote, I'm not telling them who to vote for nor do I want to know afterwards. I only ask them to inform themselves and hit the booths on November 6th. How is Google's tool any different than that?

        It's the same, but on a larger scale. Though your coworkers, friends, and family may not vote the same way as you, because you share some part of your life with them, they are more likely to vote as you do than not to. So by encouraging them to vote when they might not have done so otherwise, you effectively increase your political power just a little.

        The same applies on a larger scale for Google. By providing this information to potential voters, they hope to encourage more voting, and voting by more informed voters. Whether this actually helps Google is not clear to me, but can it influence the election? Certainly.

        It could influence the election. I bet that they know for 99% sure whether someone is a Republican or Democrate voter. Plus they might know who is likely not to vote. With their ads they could serve non-voting Democrats and ignore Republicans with this information. I don't believe they're going to do something like this, and if they would and it comes out, they're in big trouble, much more trouble than with the wrong president in power.

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by guruevi (827432)

          Why would they be in trouble? As far as I know there is nothing wrong with gearing your message to a specific voter population. See Fox News for example, they have their message tailored specifically to ... let's say mentally challenged people ... and it seems to work for them.

      • by poetmatt (793785)

        Just because you know people by no means whatsoever implies that people share the same viewpoint as you. While people do have a bias towards wanting to find individuals who agree with them, that doesn't mean it's fact. If you tell an entire office of people that a voting tool exists, it doesn't mean that you're influencing the politics.

        Can people voting influence the election? Yes. Can providing them neutral tools to find information, if they are already able to vote? No.

        • by geekoid (135745)

          Yes, it does imply that. Statistically, the people would willingly associate are likely to have views closer to yours. It's even more likely if you live in a state that leans heavily in one direction.

          " Can providing them neutral tools to find information, if they are already able to vote? No."
          people base decision on facts*. Giving people accurate facts can sway a vote. I think that's fine, people should make decision based on actual facts, and change their mind when they find out that certain facts

      • by kqs (1038910)

        This is also why there is all the controversy over voter ID laws. [propublica.org] Voters without government ID cards are seen as more likely to vote Democratic, so Democrats are trying to prevent these laws from going into effect while Republicans support them.

        Since many (most?) of the people affected by these laws are legal voters, and since there is virtually no in-person voter fraud, I'd think that many of the people trying to prevent these laws are doing so because they are patriots who hate to see laws which subvert the entire basis of democracy on which the US is founded. I cannot think of many cases where preventing legal voters from voting could possibly be considered a righteous thing to do.

    • by dkleinsc (563838)

      The reason it could influence the election: One of the standard voter suppression tactics is to send out false and misleading information to voters about the time and place they can go vote.

      That we should of course oppose all attempts at voter suppression falls on deaf ears for the groups that pull this kind of thing: They think that they should win whether or not they have the support of the population.

      • by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @03:08PM (#41833553) Homepage Journal

        The reason it could influence the election: One of the standard voter suppression tactics is to send out false and misleading information to voters about the time and place they can go vote.

        Absolutely!!!

        And this year, let's broadcast it, to make it clear so no one misses there day to vote!!

        Make sure and remind everyone, that this year, in order to accommodate a large voter turn out, and to make sure no one is disenfranchised, that we've split the dates for voting this year!!

        Republicans (the challengers) vote first on Tues. Nov. 6th.

        Democrats (the incumbents) will vote the next day on Wed. Nov. 7th.

        Please make sure everyone knows this and gets it straight.....

        Be Informed!!

  • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:12AM (#41830533) Journal
    Let's face it, Romney/Obama isn't really gonna make much difference to me locally compared to the bond referendum that sits on the November 6th ballot. So why is it that neither of these sites contain any information or reference to the my county's proposal to renovate three libraries, build a fourth, expand and improve county and regional parks, rebuild three fire stations, renovate twenty two courtrooms and build a levee and pumping station to protect a community from floods?

    I was hoping that Google would have figured out a way to mine this and give me more news and opinions on it. Maybe news items on historical perspectives of what good and bad came from the 2009 referendum?

    In Ballotpedia's defense they have the 2009 referendum but no mention of the 2012 ... why do I not find any tools for local government? Is that too difficult and expansive to tackle?
    • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:19AM (#41830601) Journal

      Indeed. This election has been devoid of any discussion of any issues of importance. Neither major candidate has referenced the fact that the US imprisons more people than any other country in the world. Neither major candidate has noted that despite our love of incarceration, the criminals that caused the 2008 financial crisis still walk free. Drug policy has not made an appearance. Drone strikes have not made an appearance. The TSA has not made an appearance.

      The only question in the presidential election is whether you want continued rule by someone who is owned by the corporate elite, or someone who is the corporate elite.

      • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:29AM (#41830695) Homepage

        This election has been devoid of any discussion of any issues of importance to me.

        FTFY

        The issues that are being discussed in this election are the issues people (outside Slashdot) are talking about... taxes, abortions, debt, and the like. While we nerds are concerned about the flaws of deadly machines, statistical disparities in the justice system, and the disconnect between security theory and security theater, we are in the minority. Other people are concerned about silly things like killing babies, whether they'll be able to retire, and what country hates us the most.

        • by Hatta (162192) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:53AM (#41830983) Journal

          Other people are concerned about silly things like killing babies

          If that actually happened, nerds would be as concerned about that as anyone else. But infanticide is already illegal.

          whether they'll be able to retire

          Which is directly related to income inequality and holding the rich accountable when they plunder funds the economy needs to keep running.

          and what country hates us the most.

          Which is directly related to how many drones we send to drop bombs on civilians in that country.

          Of the 3 issues you claim normal people are worried about, one is obviously irrelevant to anyone with a high school biology education and the ability to think critically. The other two are directly related to issues I raised which no candidate has raised.

          Nerds aren't a niche interest because we care about stupid things that no one else does. We care about the same things everyone else does, we're different because we're informed.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            Other people are concerned about silly things like killing babies

            If that actually happened, nerds would be as concerned about that as anyone else. But infanticide is already illegal.

            You realize that you're making the anti-abortionist claim, right? The life begins at conception (and not at birth), thus abortion is illegal because it's infanticide.

            The pro-life argument that life begins at birth means aborting a fetus is not infanticide and therefore, legal.

            For the religious folk, it's a very important topic,

            • by Stickybombs (1805046) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @12:17PM (#41831291)
              They don't care when life begins, or they would be lobbying for changes to the tax code too, allowing you to claim a dependent the moment a child is conceived. What they really want is control of you and your body when it suits their needs.
              • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

                by Anonymous Coward

                They don't care when life begins, or they would be lobbying for changes to the tax code too, allowing you to claim a dependent the moment a child is conceived. What they really want is control of you and your body when it suits their needs.

                Someone please mod this up. It's never occurred to me that the anti-abortion movement should also be arguing that fetuses are dependents from the moment of conception. That's a fascinating insight.

            • by Hatta (162192)

              You realize that you're making the anti-abortionist claim, right? The life begins at conception (and not at birth), thus abortion is illegal because it's infanticide.

              You read me wrong. If you're concerned about people killing babies, you don't have to worry about this election because infanticide is already illegal. Abortion is legal, but it has nothing to do with killing babies.

              For the religious folk, it's a very important topic, and why the abortion debate has shifted long into when life begins, and w

              • by sgtrock (191182)

                All they have to do is take a biology class.

                No, all they have to do is (a) take a biology class from a competent teacher who presents the facts fairly, (b) accept that the teacher is honestly teaching the whole truth, (c) decide that the message either (c.a) doesn't conflict with their understanding of God (c.b) they are atheists and don't believe in God (c.c) are simply irreligious (NOT the same thing as atheists although there are similarities), (d) agree with your analysis of the lesson and finally, (e)

                • by Hatta (162192)

                  I'd argue that if you haven't had a competent teacher that presents the facts fairly, then you haven't really had a class. Yes, I realise that's close to a Scotsman fallacy, but sometimes things aren't really what they claim they are.

                  The rest of the chain follows from thinking critically, which I agree I should have included in my statement. All you need is a competently instructed biology class and the ability to think critically, and the fact that abortion is not infanticide is plain as day.

                  • by Sarten-X (1102295)

                    It's not "close to" a No True Scotsman fallacy. It is a No True Scotsman fallacy. You're evaluating whether a biology class is really a class or not based on the unrelated attribute of whether the students adopt a particular perspective afterward.

                    You're also defining "thinking critically" as "thinking like Hatta". There is no acknowledgement that you may me mistaken - no falsifiability, as all science must have. You're glossing over the logical leaps, and emphasizing your particular conclusion as being the

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      You're evaluating whether a biology class is really a class or not based on the unrelated attribute of whether the students adopt a particular perspective afterward.

                      No, I'm evaluating the biology class based on whether the theory of evolution is accurately portrayed. How thoroughly ontogeny is discussed. What cellular differentiation is. What parts of the brain govern what function. And perhaps most importantly, whether they convey the fact that biologically humans are indistinguishable from animals.

                      If t

                    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

                      If they do all that well, then the attentive student will adopt a particular perspective

                      Or maybe not. Again you're defining how well the teacher teaches by what perspective the student develops, under the assumption that students must believe what they're properly taught. Reality is, no matter how well a teacher teaches, some students will inject their own meanings into the class, to come out with a different perspective. There's a few dozen biases in the way, and no class (or classes) will overcome them all. It is entirely possible that even with a full understanding of the mechanics of life,

              • by medcalf (68293)

                Abortion is legal, but it has nothing to do with killing babies.

                Catholics, at the very bare minimum, would disagree with that statement.

                • by Hatta (162192)

                  And they'd be factually wrong on that.

                  • by Sarten-X (1102295)

                    [citation needed]

                    No, really... I want proof of the "fact" that abortion does not kill a baby. Not just general consensus among doctors, either... absolute proof.

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      OK, we'll start with the assumption that killing a person is wrong (except in cases of self defence). We'll also assume that a baby is a person. If you disagree with these premises let me know, I'd be interested to find out why.

                      So now we have to find out whether a fetus is a person or not. If it's not a person it immediately follows that it's not a baby. You might think that we need a definition for "person" too, but we have an operational definition already. If it's OK to kill it, then it's not a p

                    • by medcalf (68293)

                      You might think that we need a definition for "person" too, but we have an operational definition already. If it's OK to kill it, then it's not a person.

                      Circular reasoning. You claim that it is ok to kill a baby because a baby is not a person, and that a person is something that it's not OK to kill.

                    • by WillAdams (45638)

                      Slippery slope.

                      It's okay to kill humans under certain circumstances (self-defense &c.).

                      - a fetus doesn't have a beating heart until almost halfway through the first trimester (5th week --- http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prenatal-care/PR00112 [mayoclinic.com] )

                      - an amputation doesn't result in the death of a person, and no portion of a person likely to be amputated is likely to develop into a person.

                      - Cancerous tumors have no reasonable possibility to create a living person.

                      - ontogeny re

                    • by Sarten-X (1102295)

                      without resorting to magic, which obviously cannot be the basis for sound policy.

                      Why not? It's worked for a few thousand years already, and in many cases it was actually the exclusion of magic that was considered unsound.

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      I'd argue that it's failed to work for thousands of years. Humanity is much less peaceful, healthy, and educated than it could be because of magical thinking.

                    • by Hatta (162192)

                      You're right. That part of the argument is circular, but it's also superfluous to the main argument I think. The real question is "why is it wrong to kill a person". And then iterate through the characteristics of fetuses to see if that can be a reason we don't kill something. The rest of the argument is the same.

                      I'd also point out that the main anti-abortion argument is similarly circular. It's wrong to kill fetuses because fetuses are persons. It's wrong to kill persons because persons have souls.

                    • by medcalf (68293)

                      But even killing humans is not always murder. For example, killing in self-defense is not murder. Killing in war is not generally murder (extension of self-defense to the tribe). The anti-abortion argument is that killing an unborn baby is murder. This argument can be a religious one, but it need not be. (And as an aside, the law generally agrees except in the case of abortion. If a pregnant woman is stabbed in the belly, and it kills the unborn baby, the person who stabbed her is generally charged with mur

      • rich guys run the world.

        and they like thing pretty much the way it is. afterall, the system, as it is, is what got them where they are now!

        and their buddies.

        its a shocker, I know. film at eleven.

      • by guruevi (827432)

        If you followed the debates you may notice that both candidates have the same policies on those topics. Both Romney and Obama have said (on drone strikes, TSA, drug policy and guns): "I agree with the President" or "I agree with Governor Romney"

    • by Kenja (541830)
      If you really dont think tax law, healthcare, the supreme court, women's rights, military spending and deployment, etc dont matter to you locally, then please just dont vote.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        "But the choice doesn't matter! Both parties are the same!"

        -Average uninformed Slashturd

        Well, you know, until you actually do more than superficial comparisons of the parties. While I didn't vote for Obama and still don't want to, I can clearly see how Romney and the Repugs want to turn back this country to the failed social and voodoo economic policies of Reagan. Reagan is the reason we turned into the largest debtor in the world and every Repuglican does nothing but add more and more debt on top despite c

      • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohnNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:37AM (#41830789) Journal

        If you really dont think tax law, healthcare, the supreme court, women's rights, military spending and deployment, etc dont matter to you locally,

        Wow, that's not at all what I meant by that statement ... what I meant was that these two presidents will most likely do the same thing on these issues. Do you really think Romney's going to repeal women's rights? Do you really think Obama is going to cut military spending? And even if they don't, they have to fight congress and the house on some of them.

        The onus is on you to prove to me that the delta between Romney and Obama on the issues you mentioned will affect me locally more than all of the resources this bond referendum could supply. Yes, there are important national issues but I am saying that local issues are also important and nobody seems to care about them nor does anyone seem to report on them! Can't the mighty Google acknowledge their existence?

        then please just dont vote.

        Thanks, I respect you and your right to vote too.

        • by Kenja (541830) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:53AM (#41830995)
          I think Romney would appoint a a heavily conservative supreme court justice who would over turn row v wade. I think Obama wont massively increase military spending like Romney says he will do. I think that Obama wont fight to repeal "Obamacare" killing my friend. I also dont think Obama will cut taxes in the same manor or extent that Romney will. There are major differences between the two candidates that will effect things far past their terms in office. Regardless of which you vote for, do so for a valid reason or stay home.
          • by medcalf (68293)
            The Supreme Court is no longer necessary to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade. Since Obamacare was ruled Constitutional, it is thus within the purview of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide what health care service may, may not, must or must not be covered by insurance or provided by companies and organizations. I see no reason why any President could not simply appoint a HHS Secretary who will ban abortion from being covered by insurance, provided by organizations, or paid for by the govern
            • by Desler (1608317)

              The HHS can't ban the insurance companies from paying for abortions. Also, states have been blocking funding for and putting up
              roadocks in the way of women getting abortions for decades before "Obamacare". Stop FUDing.

    • it represents an opportunity

      someone industrious: put that together and reap the traffic ranking such a resource obviously would represent

      someone partisan who would stultify and imitate a mock website of such a resource to manipulate outcomes: no, not you. fuck off and die. earn your plutocrat cash by being the whore you are and sucking plutocrat cock, and stop destroying our democracy as the plutocrat's goon

    • by Sarten-X (1102295) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:38AM (#41830821) Homepage

      why do I not find any tools for local government? Is that too difficult and expansive to tackle?

      Having worked on an election-information site, I can tell you definitively: yes.

      Every state chooses its own process for elections, and often each municipality can change that process as they see fit. There is no requirement that information about the ballots be made available in digital form. There is no requirement that any particular format be used. In some places, the only description of what's on the ballot is a small notice in the local weekly newspaper, and the ballot itself. Even a list of candidates is hard to get for some technology-opposing areas.

      When I worked on my particular election site, we had eight people on staff, and five of them were working full-time collecting information from newspapers, government agencies, and sometimes phone calls to the candidates themselves.

    • I know what you mean. I just finished my absentee voting and the amendments are written to specifically into tricking you into voting "yes".

      For example, amendment 4 in Alabama states on the ballot that voting yes removes all references to segregated education. In reality, that one sentence has been invalid for over 3 decades. I got suspicious and research the bill that was mentioned on the sample ballot and found out that the bill actually removes all language in the State's constitution guaranteeing a per

    • by geekoid (135745)

      It will, becasue you bond interest rate may be impacted, as will the willingness to lend.

  • if you can show me where google lies, then it raises many questions

    if the information is accurate, then fuck you

    because your "question" seems to imply that empowering citizens to exercise their basic rights is "influence"

    republicans, when they aren't busy sucking plutocrat cock, are doing their darnedest to disenfranchise and discourage poor citizens from voting

    so if you want to worry about influence, focus your "fair and balanced" attention on those antiamerican assholes

    otherwise your "question" represents

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Because clearly the Republicans are the only evil politicians in this country. The Democrats are innocent little angels who are just fighting for the rights of the common man. They are the absolute vanguard of personal liberties. They can do no wrong!

      Mmmm, yummy kool-aid! What's in it?
  • Voter Tools (Score:4, Interesting)

    by kodiaktau (2351664) on Wednesday October 31, 2012 @11:35AM (#41830777) Journal

    Voter tools like Publius [publius.org] are far more valuable than the collection of graphs from Google. Voters need a single place to research and look for information about their ballot. Especially for voters on border lines with other states, issues are muddied as TV and radio aren't focused enough to hit just their target market. Looking at a single place where your ballot is laid out is much more effective.

    The organization and source of the Google data is questionable in my mind. Not sure why they have chosen to group things the way the did in the Insights tab and makes it look suspicious.

    • by asylumx (881307)

      Not sure why they have chosen to group things the way the did in the Insights tab and makes it look suspicious.

      I'm not sure if maybe we're not looking at the same thing, but the layout looks to me like a list of topics on the left grouped by which debate or which overall topic they regard, and the corresponding poll data on the right. What is "suspicious" about that?

  • that's what i learned after 30 some years in the US

    reagan vs the troll carter telling people to wear a sweater
    reagan vs the socialist mondale
    bush 1 vs the gnome dukakis
    clinton vs bush
    bush 2 vs al bore
    bush 2 vs another monster by the name of kerry
    obama vs mccain who looks like he's always chewing tobacco

    in the US good looks, charisma and speaking ability trump issues all the tim

  • So, where can I find information about open source software to vote for?

    Also, could some slashdotter please start a crowdsourced/crowdfunded lobbying platform like kickstarter? I'm tired of only big companies doing the real lobbying, and I would be happy to pay some dollars to people doing the lobbying for me.

  • It's really cute how you guys are all still spending your days going to voting booths. It's jsut so . . . QUAINT!

    In Oregon, we've been voting by mail for more than thirty years and in federal elections for twenty years. We haven't had voting booths or polling centers for two decades.

  • quizzing and social integration.

    William

    (who aligned w/ one of the 2 main party candidates at www.isidewith.com but is voting for Gary Johnson, Libertarian)

  • This raises the question: can Google influence the elections even more than it already does via lobbying?

    You're in John Birch territory now. Explain to the uninitiated how informing people who they can vote for and where is "influencing the elections" like lobbying for a cause does.

    Is it perhaps because when it's easy for citizens to vote, the *wrong* people end up going to the polls and voting for the *wrong* policies?

    This is the kind of headline that gets through Slashdot now? This is what we are now?

  • Come on, we're Slashdot. Let's not misuse terms like "Open Source". Those words, together, mean something specific! This is a "free (as in beer)" web tool. It's not a software application at all, and it certainly isn't Open Source (which would imply that we have access to the source code, and a license like GPL, BSD, or Apache to use it).
  • The data Google has on my district is woefully inaccurate.

    It lists the same election as multiple different elections. For example, there's a State House 2, and a State House 002 ballot listed, with the challenger appearing on one, and the incumbent AND challenger on the other.

    Then it has "Auditor," and "County Auditor." Same office, incumbent on one, petitioner on the other.

    Google has some work to do. I sent them these issues so hopefully they will address them, but I kinda doubt it.

  • Project Vote Smart is another place to go for information.
  • I guess it's "Beta" (like pretty much everything Google puts out)? In my district, it lists the mayoral race, but includes only the incumbent, not the challenger. It also fails to include the Independent candidate for the Congressional district, and completely excludes the proposed Constitutional amendments.

    The amendments are not only arguably the most important items on the ballot this year, but also the ones voters are in most need of being educated about.

  • then it's only for Democrats. Maybe only for Obama.

    I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, what I can tell you is over the past couple of months every time I look at Google plus I get barraged by pro Obama crap and I've seen one pro Romney post - straight from the Romney campaign. I know - probably the biggest difference - between left and right wingers is the need for solidarity. Solidarity practically defines left wing so they are more likely to "ripple" by resharing anything that reaffirms their opinions

On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog. -- Cartoon caption

Working...