Today, the United States is electing a new president, voting on one-third of the seats in the U.S. Senate, and voting on all 435 seats in the House of Representatives. An important election? To say the least! And interest in the election results is higher than many of us “experienced” voters can ever remember.
Tonight, while most of us will be glued to the television to watch election results come in across the U.S., millions of people won’t have access to a TV, or will be away from home and unable to get local election results on TVs where they are. Not to worry, though. The internet, and the major search engines, in particular, will have you covered. Here’s a look at how the search engines are planning to help you get the real-time election results you’re looking for tonight.
Starting later today, when there’s something to report, Google will show a special “one box” with electoral college results sourced from the Associated Press. The one box will be triggered by search queries related to “election,” as well as searches on the presidential candidates’ names.
The results map shows state-by-state results for the McCain-Obama contest, and clicking on a state lets you see county-by-county results (which are also available for the House and Senate races, too). Notice, too, that this elections results map is an embeddable widget that you can use on your own web site.
A similar version of this map, showing electoral college vote counts for the presidential race, has already been embedded onto the Google News home page, and will be updated as results begin to come in.
Google is also offering a mobile site for election results at m.google.com/elections.
Yahoo has big plans for covering the election results. Beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET (when some states’ polls close), Yahoo search results will show a “shortcut” with current election results related to the presidential race. The shortcut will be triggered by terms such as “McCain,” “Obama,” “elections,” and “electoral college,” and will show electoral college and popular vote counts.
But that’s just the beginning of Yahoo’s plans. Election results will dominate the Yahoo.com home page: In addition to news stories about election results, Yahoo will show the ongoing popular vote and electoral college votes for each presidential candidate, and will offer a link to watch live election results coverage via ABC News NOW. Yahoo provided a screenshot of what to expect on Yahoo.com after the polls close on the East Coast and the results begin to come in:
Beyond the home page, Yahoo’s election results coverage centers on its Political Dashboard. The Dashboard’s map, which has been showing polling predictions during the campaign, will go gray at 7:00 p.m. ET and begin to report state-by-state results for the presidential election, as well as all House and Senate races. Here’s a preview of what to expect from Yahoo’s Political Dashboard:
Yahoo Mobile will also have presidential election results. You can get that by going to m.yahoo.com, or by using Yahoo’s oneSearch on any appropriate mobile device.
Live Search will also provide election results, but its plans seem less ambitious than Google and Yahoo. Later today, Live Search will offer an “Instant Answer” that will be triggered by terms such as “election results,” “presidential election results,” “(state) election results,” and so forth. The data will be provided by MSNBC, and should be updated every 2-3 minutes.
No doubt that MSN and MSNBC.com will have plenty of election result coverage, but it’s unclear how that content will tie in with Live.com’s Instant Answer, or if it will at all.
Looking For Other Election Results?
As always, there’s a lot more going on than the federal government races that the major search engines are focusing on. Up here in Washington, we have an extremely volatile and close race for governor. California has the controversial Proposition 8, which has prompted some Silicon Valley companies to speak out against it. If you’re looking for local election results like these, you’ll probably get the information you want by searching for the right elections offices.
- State-level elections: A state’s Department/Secretary of State office usually handles elections. Using your favorite search engine with queries such as “washington election results” or “california election results” won’t bring up immediate numbers, but should quickly point you toward special state web sites such as vote.wa.gov and vote.sos.ca.gov.
- City, County, and smaller elections: Smaller elections are typically handled at the county level, often by an Elections Board/Commission, an Auditor’s Department, or some similar office. Again, searching for terms like “king county election results” on your favorite search engine should lead to the county web site where results are being posted.
Election Results Via Social Media
Today’s election seems to be the primary topic of conversation on social media sites. Twitter’s election channel has been scrolling dozens of posts per minute about the election, and that will no doubt include discussion of results later today.
It’s also a safe bet that Wikipedia editors will be updating the 2008 Presidential Election page with results tonight as they happen. You can also check the most popular articles page to see how much interest there is today in this election.
Social news sites such as digg, reddit, Mixx, Propeller, and Newsvine are also sure to have plenty of popular articles about election results as we head into the evening. (A discerning eye might be in order, as some sites may report voting trends that don’t seem to reflect the entire country.)
No matter where you are, or what political races you’re following, there are plenty of opportunities online — on the search engines and beyond — to get the election results you want to know.
(More coverage on Techmeme.)
UPDATE #1: The Associated Press will stream continuous, live, election video online beginning at 7:00 p.m. ET. Go to www.ap.org/elections2008/.
UPDATE #2: The New York Times is offering text alerts of the presidential, House, Senate, and all governor’s races. Look for sign-up details in the right column.
UPDATE #3: CNN’s yourRaces is a tool that lets you follow the statewide races and ballot measures that interest you.