Navigating election day with your iPhone

Toady is election day and once again, social technology will have a large influence on 2010 results. Here are some sites and apps to watch.
Written by Jason D. O'Grady, Contributor

The first Tuesday in November -- today -- is election day in the United States. Today is a "mid-term" election, meaning that it falls roughly in the middle of the four-year Presidential term.

Unfortunately that usually translates into lower voter turnout because there isn't a national Presidential race to galvenize the electorate and bring people to the polls. Instead, today's elections focus on the state and municipal government, and while midterms aren't as high-profile as the Presidential, they're just as important.

Here's what's at stake: 37 Senate seats, all 435 House seats, 37 state governorships, 6,115 state legislative seats, 160 ballot questions and thousands of officials on the county and municipal level.

Voting is your civic duty as an American and you should take the time to get out to the polls today.

In 2008, the Obama campaign capitalized on social media to get out the vote and this year social services are being used by both voters and candidates alike. Matthew Ingram wrote a piece for GigaOm about some of the social technology being used in the 2010 elections

the mid-term state elections happening tomorrow have some of their own social tools — including a special Foursquare badge, a Facebook “get out the vote” challenge, and a geo-location app for tracking voter interest. There’s also a cool Twitter visualization from the programmer-journalists at the New York Times and an analysis of whether the number of Twitter followers a candidate has can predict who will win the election.

Foursquare's "I Voted" data visualization was designed to encourage civic participation, increase transparency in the voting process and develop a replicatable system for the 2012 Presidential Election. The Google Election Center app (gadget embedded below) allows you to easily find your polling location, hours and other relevant voting information.

Google has also launched a mobile site (m.google.com/elections) that makes it easy to find your polling place and follow election news from your iPhone or Android browser. Just enter your address and it shows you a Google Map of your polling place. The Election Center site also has information about candidates running for office in your area.

The New York Times has also launched an innovative real-time visualization of political Tweets that displays the number of posts related to candidates running for governor or the Senate.

There are also numerous iPhone apps dedicated to the cause:

  • CNN Elections Center (free, App Store) - Election-related news and headlines and the ability to follow up to 15 races with push notifications.
  • VoterHub (free, App Store) - Register to vote, find polling location, get information on early voting, vote-by-mail and candidates.
  • Congress ($0.99, App Store) - View your member of Congress's first and last name; title or leadership position, state, senior/junior designation in the Senate and District number in the house, political party affiliation, district map, and biographical information.
  • Stewart v. Colbert - Vote Fear or Insanity (free, App Store) - Some lighthearted fun when you need a break.

For other election-related information tune into Politico.com (news), OpenSecrets.org (campaign finance), Thomas.loc.org (legislation), Legistorm.com (transparency) and FactCheck.org (factual accuracy).
Don't forget to vote and remember to post to Twitter and/or Facebook that you did to remind others to do the same. See you at the polls!

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