Foursquare rocks the vote

Faith Merino · October 27, 2010 · Short URL:

Foursquare users will be able to check-in at polling locations November 2

Those of us who didn’t get on the ball this year and mail out our ballots ahead of time (or threw them away in the mistaken belief they were junk mail) can still pretend to be responsible citizens with a new Foursquare feature that will allow users to check-in at voting booths across the country.

Foursquare is collaborating with design firm JESS3 and the I Voted Project to produce a map showing where voters are turning out via real-time Foursquare check-ins at 108,000 polling locations throughout the U.S.  The site went live Wednesday morning, but currently shows only a count-down clock to mark the days until November 2, when citizens will be voting for new leaders and policies (if they remember to, and they can get home in time for Dancing with the Stars).

No Foursquare check-in would be complete without the cute little Foursquare rewards, so voters who check-in at a polling place on November 2 will earn a special badge.

Jordan Raynor, president of Direct Media Strategies and creator of the I Voted petition (which petitioned Foursquare to award badges to users who checked in to polling places on Nov. 2), outlined his reasons for pushing the project in a blog post Wednesday morning:

“This project was designed with three purposes in mind: Encourage civic participation through the distribution of the “I Voted” foursquare badge; Increase transparency by visualizing how many voters are checking-in, and at which polling locations; and Develop a replicable and scalable system to use for the 2012 Presidential Elections and beyond.”

According to Raynor, the project began to materialize shortly after he launched the petition for a check-in badge for voters, when Leslie Bradshaw of JESS3 contacted Raynor about creating a coalition of political digital strategists to make the I Voted Project happen.  Their biggest challenge, said Raynor, was to find a way to upload more than 108,000 polling locations across the country, an endeavor that Digital Media Strategies had been working on since June when the company teamed up with the Voting Information Project.

The map created by JESS3 will not only show who is voting and where, but will also provide some interesting facts, including polling places with the highest voter turnout, gender ratios, and total number of check-ins.

JESS3 built the map using data from the Voting Info Project, which contains information on polling locations throughout the country, and map information from Open Streetmap.

Twitter users might remember that in 2008, Twitter covered the presidential elections via the Twitter Vote Report, which tracked voter turnout (not who people were voting for) on Election Day.  The Twitter Vote Report was meant to report the actual voting process, including lines and wait times, problems with machines, problems with registration, and overall experience. 

Facebook offered something similar on Election Day 2008: a voter tally count at the top of the news feed that would update when voters clicked the “I Voted” button.  

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