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Google launches voter registration assistance in its search results

ICE Graveyard 18/07/2016 Sarah Perez

Google today is rolling out a new search feature that will help U.S. users learn how they can register to vote, according to their state’s requirements. When people search for “register to vote” on Google, the search engine will now display detailed guidelines, voting requirements, as well as information on how to register online, by mail and in person, as applicable.

The search feature was announced on Friday, but only became available as of today for U.S. users.

According to the company, the goal with this feature is to make sure everyone is able to participate in the political process. While information on voting is available via the web, of course, it can be tricky to understand what options you have, or how to get started. Complicating the matter further is the fact that states have different deadlines and methods available.

Google’s tool aims to simplify voter registration by popping up an informational box above the search results (but below Google ads) that offers three distinct tabs: “How To,” “Requirements,” and “Deadlines.” These will also be personalized to the individual searcher, based on their location.

The “How To” section will summarize the process of registering for the given state for each available registration option, like “in person,” or “by mail,” for example. Here, Google is even listing the detailed steps you need to take for each part of the registration process, ranging from how to fill out the registration form to which mailing address the completed form would be returned to, and more.

The other sections provide information on voting requirements for the state and the various registration deadlines. Links to local county voter registration sites are also provided.

This is not the first time Google has inserted itself into the political process, by any means. A few years ago, the company launched an Online Voter Guide that let Google users register to vote via the third-party service TurboVote. It also has offered web searchers similar voter registration information in years past.

However, the information Google is providing today is better formatted and easier to navigate than in years prior, and it offers more detail. It also displays well on mobile devices.

Voter registration is not the only way Google is supporting users searching for political information this election season. The company recently introduced real-time responses from the presumptive candidates into its search results to help those looking for more information on each politician’s ideas or positions.

The company plans to involve itself in Republican and Democratic National Convention coverage, too, including by offering event summaries and speaker lineups in the Google app, as well as livestreams of the conventions on YouTube.

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