Google adds voting location information to its search and maps services

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Google will give voter information in its Maps app and search engine.


Angela Lang/CNET

Google on Friday said it’s adding voter information to its search engine and maps app, including details on polling places, early voting locations and ballot drop-off areas.

The information appears in search results if someone, for example, enters the query “ballot drop boxes near me.” The update comes as millions of Americans have already begun early voting ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. Google Maps will also provide voting hours and directions to voting places. The search giant said it will soon let people search for that information on its smart speakers and smart displays. 

Silicon Valley giants like Google and Facebook have upped their efforts to give people information on voting and voter registration. Facebook said last month it’s registered 2.5 million Americans to vote. 

Tech companies have been eager to show they can be beneficial to the electoral process, after they faced fierce criticism for their missteps in 2016. That election was marred by interference from Russia, which exploited platforms from Google, Facebook and Twitter to try to influence the outcome of the contest. 

In addition to voting and registration information, tech giants have also been focused on curbing misinformation about the voting process. Last month, Google-owned YouTube said it will give people information on mail-in voting when they watch videos that discuss the subject. The ballot-casting method has become fraught with misinformation as President Donald Trump has tried to discredit the process, while providing no evidence of security flaws in the time-tested system.

To provide people with more context, YouTube said its software will add a text panel to accompany vote by mail videos, linking to information from the Bipartisan Policy Center, a Washington DC-based think tank.

Google also said last month that it would block autocomplete suggestions in its search engine for queries related to voting procedures, like “you can vote by phone” or “you can’t vote by phone.”

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