How To Follow The Presidential Election On The Web

For the first time ever, The Associated Press, which reaches 61 million unique visitors through 2,100 affiliate sites, will stream continuous live election video online.

K.C. Jones, Contributor

November 3, 2008

3 Min Read

Need directions to a polling place? Wondering if your voter registration was processed in time? Where are the most reliable election results with context and perspective? How about the most unfiltered? Read on.

With a seemingly infinite number of election-oriented news sources, the following list includes top Election 2008 Web sources to help cut through the clutter. Aside from Web sites of the candidates, Boards of Elections, and national Election Day watch groups like Election Protection, there are three sites that stand out among the rest. Together, they offer all the basic tools any voter needs to stay up to date on Election Day, including: local information, unfiltered video reports of voter intimidation and failure of electronic voting machines, and the most accurate and up-to-date election results.

For starters, Google's home page will contain a link on Election Day for a new Google Voter Info "maplet" and gadget that contains little snippets of information like notices about absentee ballots. The Voter Info tools also provide links for voters to check the status of their registration and links to register if they have not done so -- though it's too late for the 2008 presidential election. Developer Michael Geary designed the map to show voters the location of their polling place based on their residential address.

It's not perfect, though. A check of three residential Manhattan addresses on Monday (including two in Midtown) yielded only one result on the map. The other two still produced written street addresses, but they accompanied a notice stating: "We were unable to locate this voting place on the map." (One of the polling places is across the street from the residence, which did appear on the map.) Those that didn't show up on the map could be entered on Google maps as an alternative, albeit a more complicated one. Polling places that appear on the map offer a link for directions.

The largest news organization in the world also has added features to give readers better access to information. For the first time ever, The Associated Press will stream continuous live election video online. AP's Online Video Network reaches 61 million unique visitors through 2,100 affiliate sites. The AP is worth tracking, since the AP is generally the most reliable source for election results, which it has delivered every four years since Zachary Taylor won the presidential election in 1848. The AP is virtually the only source for national election returns, with teams across the nation collecting vote tallies and delivering them to other news providers. The AP's election staff includes about 500 staffers and 4,600 freelancers.

"Big Issue: Election Results" begins streaming starting at 7 p.m. EST through thousands of newspapers and broadcasters. The AP's Washington Bureau Chief Ron Fournier and other AP political reporters and editors will discuss the returns and provide live updates from the candidates' headquarters. They also will follow 10 undecided voters to see who they chose and why. The feed will be available on Election Day through AP's Web site.

"We recognize that this is a once in a quarter century election," Michael Oreskes, AP Managing Editor for U.S. News, said in a statement. "Through the course of the year we have dug deeply into the dynamics of race and gender and economic fears that are suffusing the electorate. Our pre-election AP-Yahoo News poll assessing the impact of racial attitudes on the electorate is being cited as the prime source on the issue this year. We plan to carry this work into our preparations for Election Night."

YouTube's Video Your Vote Channel includes a color-coded map with pins representing voting problems, including equipment failure, long lines, and voter information. The joint YouTube-PBS effort allows regular voters to explain and capture the excitement and problems they encounter, including "notable voters" and personal perspectives. It promises to "pull back the curtain as America votes." The best footage may be included in Jim Lehrer's News Hour on PBS stations.

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