Election Day software advances at social-media sites, stalled at polling places
If the usual exhortations to vote--it matters, it's easy, it preserves your right to say "don't blame me, I voted for the other candidate," it's your job as an American citizen--don't work--how about the chance to collect a virtual badge at a social-media site?
Today, Facebook is welcoming U.S. users with an invitation to find their polling place and click an "I Voted" button, which adds the graphic at right to their profile. As of 12:11 p.m., 3,074,371 people on Facebook had done so.
In the weeks before the election, some Facebookers had been posting a "Commit to Vote" badge on friend's pages--part of a campaign set up by the Democratic National Committee's Organizing For America project. Three friends did so on my own profile--one of whom has always struck me as a committed, free-market Republican.
(4:01 p.m. The AllFacebook blog has been collecting some interesting stats on which parties and candidates have drawn more fans on the social network--with more metrics like that, including data on which candidates have been talked about the most on Facebook, coming in an online town hall tonight. But AllFacebook's numbers also illustrate how looking at data from one site can lead you astray; gubernatorial candidates Meg Whitman [R-Calif.] and Bill White [D.-Tex.] have far more fans than their opponents, but polls have both losing by non-trivial margins.)
Foursquare has its own "I Voted" badge, which you can collect by including "#ivoted" in your shout-out when you check in. (I only wrote "I voted" when I checked in at my polling place and still collected this badge. It looks like checking in at a location tagged as having a voting booth or with a name beginning "Voting at..." suffices.)
The New York-based check-in service also has a nifty elections page (designed by the District firm JESS3) that lets you look up voting location (it will try to determine your physical spot from your computer's Internet address) and monitor voting trends as seen through Foursquare check-ins. So far, it's seen 12,794 check-ins at 8,028 venues, with 61 percent of check-ins by men and 39 percent by women.
Over at Twitter, you may notice that "#Election" shows up atop its trends list as a "Promoted" topic. You can thank The Post for that. We bought that hashtag, ensuring that anybody who clicks on it will see a link to our election coverage before all other tweets using the same tag.
But if the state of election-related social-media software has never been better, election software itself is another thing. The District's recent experiment in online voting ended after computer researchers easily broke into the site. And numerous polling locations continue to serve up the same creaky electronic-voting machine as ever.
Take the obsolete WinVote terminal I just voted on in Arlington--please! This is the fifth year I've been presented with one of these relics, have been annoyed to see its failure to grasp the basic user-interface principle that a red X means "no," not "yes," and therefore doesn't work as a symbol representing your vote for something and have wondered what other poor design choices lurk below that dim-witted interface.
(Disclosure: My wife works in the county's IT department but has no involvement with elections or voter registration.)
What sort of voting hardware or software have you used today? Post your review in the comments--and let me know if you've recorded your participation on any social-media site.
And if you haven't voted yet, do so. It matters, it's easy, it preserves your right to say "don't blame me, I voted for the other candidate," and--most important--it's your job as an American citizen.
| November 2, 2010; 12:36 PM ET
Categories: Policy and politics, Social media, The business we have chosen
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