Google unveils new API to help with voting

Steven Loeb · September 21, 2012 · Short URL:

Information will include polling locations, info on candidates and how to contact election officials

If you’re like me, then you are a political junkie. Politics, for how dirty and nasty it can be, is also fascinating, and honestly the only profession I can think of where grown men and women are allow, if not encouraged, to lie, throw tantrums and refuse to do their jobs. It can also be pretty confusing, not only when it comes to who to vote for, but where, when and how to vote. I moved across the country nearly nine months ago and I still don’t know where my polling location is!

So for all of those who need help, Google unveiled a new, free API on Friday, designed to supply relevant information to voters.

The new Google Civic Information API will allow developers to include information on their apps such as polling locations, early vote locations, data on candidates, and election official information, in order to make it easier for people to vote.

The API is being released today, though Google does not yet have all of the information available, and notes that the data can frequently change. Still, it says that it expects to have accumulated all of the data by mid-October, before the U.S. presidential election takes place on November 6th.

Even though, at first, the API will only feature data for the upcoming election in the U.S., Google says that it eventually plans to expand the API to cover elections in other countries, as well as “other types of civic information,” though Google did not specifically outline what further information it was planning to provide, or in which other countries.

“By releasing this API, we hope to unleash the creativity of the Internet and help you build innovative products that push civic information to your communities in interesting ways,” Chetan Sabnis, member of Google Politics & Elections Team, wrote in a blog post Friday.

The new API is going to replace the Google Election Center API, which is already deprecated and will be shut down on January 1st of next year.

Google’s election tools

Google has unveiled a number of helpful APPS for voters this year.

In January, Google announced the launch of new feature Google Elections, right before the Iowa caucuses. The new feature was created to help concerned citizens look at aggregated news, search by a variety of election-relevant criteria, such as candidate popularity or important issues, and even look at ready-made trend graphs.

The tool included a feature called "On the Ground", which allowed users to group news stories based on stops along the various candidates' campaign trails.

Google also has a YouTube channel geared toward the 2012 election, called YouTube Politics, where voters can view quick clips of candidates's speeches and public appearances.

In August, Google released on online voter guide, which provided information about voting deadlines, how to register to vote and how to vote by mail. It even added a special section to make it easier for military and overseas voters to find information about their different rules and deadlines.

Google was unable to be reached for comment.

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