Google has rolled out an update to search aimed at helping U.S. users find out how they can vote in the upcoming November election. This includes information on what sort of ID you need to bring with you to your polling places, voting deadlines, details on early voting and mail-in ballots and more. The added guides will appear in Google search when certain phrases are googled, like “how to vote,” for example.
The update follows a similar effort released by Google earlier this summer, which was aimed at helping web searchers get registered to vote ahead of the election. In that case, Google began providing information on voting requirements, as well as how to register by mail, online and in person. These guides were also customized based on the user’s location.
Similarly, the new “how to vote” information is also specific to the web searcher’s current location. Instead of just posting general guidelines, Google has rolled out state-by-state guides. If need be, you can change the state that appears – based on the location detected by the browser – by selecting a different state from the drop-down box.
The new guides will appear in Google search results, and include tabs across the top that let you browse through the “how to” info, requirements, and details on when to vote. This will show you both the early voting dates, as well as the poll hours on Election Day. This section also links you to information on how to get registered. However, Google does not have your individual street address, so it can’t direct you to your exact polling place.
Google notes that since it rolled out the voter registration information last month, it has seen millions of users turning to search for help with this topic. Plus, searches for voter registration are up 190 percent nationwide compared with four years ago, the company says.
In addition, Google says it will make the data powering its “how to register to vote” and its “how to vote” search results publicly available, so nonprofits and other organizations focused on voter education and outreach will be able to take advantage of the insights it gains. These groups can fill out a form to request access. Other resources, like this interactive map showing search interest in voter registration over the years, is live now.
As we noted previously, Google has been helping web searchers with voting information for some time. It launched an Online Voter Guide a few years ago and has offered web searchers similar voter registration information in years past. More recently, it has worked to help people figure out who to vote for, by introducing real-time responses from the candidates in its search results.
The difference between its prior efforts and now, however, is that Google’s voting information is today better formatted for access from mobile devices than before.