Google offers its maps to help voters find polling places

Company says it responded to needs found in census data, searches

As US Election Day nears, Google has created a Web site to help voters find the location of their polling places by typing in an address and clicking a search button.

In an announcement Wednesday on Google's blog, the new mapping service was launched to assist voters who might skip the Nov. 4 election because they didn't know where to vote.

"It's hard to believe that in 2008, information so important to US citizens and the democratic process isn't well organized on the Web," said the blog entry posted by J.L. Needham, a member of Google's public-sector content partnerships department, and Abe Murray, a Google product manager. "To solve this problem, we've released our US Voter Info site, an effort to simplify and centralize voting locations and registration information."

The site uses Google Maps and allows a visitor to enter an address and get results that provide the location of the voter's polling place.

The map site was created by Google Maps in partnership with state and local election officials, the Voting Information Project, the League of Women Voters and others, according to Google.

Mobile phone users can get the same information by going to m.google.com/elections or searching for the word vote with their addresses on Google Maps for Mobile.

Google also offers the mapping site code for free to groups that want to include it on their Web sites, according to the company.

This isn't the first Google tool aimed at the upcoming elections. The search firm recently created an interactive map where visitors can track the latest projected US electoral vote totals for the presidential candidates, based on the latest voter-preference polls. Using the site, visitors can get a real-time look at how the electoral votes are stacking up for the candidates as Election Day approaches.

Google also created a Web page with legal information site FindLaw.com where prospective voters can find out whether their states have laws that allow them to take time away from work to vote.

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Todd R. Weiss

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