Social nets push Americans to get out and vote

Facebook, Twitter and Google are continuing their push to get Americans to the polls for next week's presidential election.

Facebook, which has been credited with aiding in a surge of voter registrations this fall, is running a new feature that shows users what's on the ballot in their state. The information includes which candidates are running in federal, state and local races, ballot initiatives and where the candidates stand on issues?


A sample of information provided to California voters from Facebook on a smartphone.

"Voting is important and everyone deserves to have the tools to exercise this basic right," the company said in a recent blog post. "That's why, alongside other companies, we're encouraging civic participation. We want to make it easier for people who want to participate to do so, and to have a voice in the political process."

While Facebook last month posted voter registration reminders, the social network now is trying to show voters what questions they'll be asked to decide on when placing ballots on Election Day.

"Not all states in America mail out sample ballots ahead of an election," the company stated. "This can make it challenging to find comprehensive information about the questions you'll be expected to consider when you walk into the voting booth. Thanks to data gathered from election officials by the nonpartisan Center for Technology and Civic Life, we can present you with a preview of the ballot you'll receive on November 8."

Google is taking a similar initiative. When users call up the Google search page on the election, for instance, they'll see a pop-up window that notes if there's early voting in their state.They also can click to find out the location of their their polling place and directions on how to get there.

By entering their address, the service show users where to vote, as well as offer information on how to vote and register. By clicking on the ballot link, users are shown who is running in the presidential and state-level races.

"Throughout the summer, we've helped voters find information about how to register and how to vote, in both English and Spanish," wrote Jacob Schonberg, Google product manager, and Kate Sokolov, Google's program manager for Politics and Elections, in a blog post last month. "Now, as you prepare to head to the polls, we want to make sure you know where to vote and who's on your ballot when you get there."

Twitter also is getting in on the election action. The social network's @gov, or Twitter Election arm, gives users a countdown of reminders about how many days are left until Election Day.

Twitter also has launched a service today that enables users to send a private Direct Message, or DM, to Twitter's @gov account to get information about their polling place, the candidates and ballot questions, along with information about state election rules and absentee voting.

Facebook and Google also played roles in the presidential debates between Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, which organized the three presidential debates, in September used information from Facebook and Google on what people were searching for and saying about the election, to help them put together questions for the candidates.

Facebook also was on-site during the debates to help people live stream the events using Facebook Live.

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