The Internet’s top companies are pulling out all the stops to help voters get to the polls and keep track of their candidates on Election Day.
Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley giants are rolling out new pages, software and applications to encourage people to cast their ballots and stay on top of the latest returns.
“While every election is important, the voting process can often feel complicated, with the information about how to head to the polls spread across multiple official sources,” Google executive Anthea Watson Strong wrote in a recent blog post.
To simplify the process, Google is displaying state-specific details when people use search phrases such as “register to vote” or “how do I vote.”
Searching on Google for “who is on my ballot” brings up a list of all the candidates running for the federal, statewide and local offices in any given area, while “where is my polling place” lists local polling places.
A Google page specifically set up for the elections — google.com/elections — lists the latest news and YouTube videos about the candidates as well as aggregated data about common political Google searches.
Facebook has a similar election headquarters page that displays a user’s local candidates alongside a national map with constantly updated data about how many people are liking or talking about various candidates.
The social media giant is also rolling out an “I’m Voting” button. Though the feature has been around since 2008, it has not been available to all Facebook users until this year.
A study after the 2010 midterms estimated that the button increased turnout by at least 340,000 votes over 2006.
“Online political mobilization works,” researchers wrote in a 2012 Nature article about their study. “It induces political self-expression, but it also induces information gathering and real, validated voter turnout.”
Facebook has also used its large repository of data about people’s preferences and conversations to track the political climate in ways both telling and whimsical.
Data shared with The Wall Street Journal, for instance, found that economic security and jobs were discussed on Facebook more in Wisconsin than anywhere else in the nation, a likely result of the tough gubernatorial race that has largely focused on the economy.
A separate Facebook analysis released last week found that Republicans prefer country music, while Democrats opt for the Beatles.
Twitter, too, has produced data about various candidates and political issues that it is sharing with MSNBC, Bloomberg, USA Today and other news outlets.
On Tumblr, the homepages of users have been turned into reminders to go vote, with additional pledges and forms for people to advertise their participation and direct people to polling places. People who commit to voting on Tuesday will be rewarded with an image of an iconic straw hat with red, white and blue ribbons on their avatar.
Celebrities, also, are using social media sites to get people to the polls.
On Tuesday, Dave Matthews, Stephen Colbert, Conan O’Brien and hundreds of other celebrities will use their Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr accounts to encourage people to go vote, in an effort coordinated by HeadCount, a nonpartisan group.
Tech companies are endeavoring to maximize voter participation as more and more people are turning to the Internet and social media sites to follow the news on Election Day.
A survey by the Pew Research Center published on Monday found that 16 percent of registered voters use sites like Facebook or Twitter to follow candidates and political figures, up from 6 percent just four years ago. The trend showed up on both sides of the aisle and across all age groups.
“Social media is just where we spend our time,” said Liba Rubenstein, the head of public policy at Tumblr.
“It’s integrated into our lives,” she added, “and therefore, it’s where a lot of the things that used to happen offline in terms of communicating with our friends about political opinions, asking for advice, knocking on doors, doing research — all of these things are facilitated by social media.”