It's Election Day and information overload is in full swing, and not just in the swing states. From newspapers to TV and the Internet, tracking whether President Bush or Sen. John F. Kerry wins is a 24-7 operation.
On the Web, blogs and news sites are just a few of the spots to watch the results pour in. The tech press has been part of this media circus, though mostly focusing on how the candidates have hit or missed tech policy issues. Wired News, techie site Slashdot.org and CNET's News.com have election coverage, but they aren't doing anything particularly fancy to cover the election, beyond the standard rundown of where candidates stand on issues and of course, covering whoever wins. CNET's election blogs on the key tech issues of broadband, offshoring and security are a notable exception, along with Wired's quirky election stories.
Tech Investors See Brighter Future (washingtonpost.com, Nov 4, 2004)
Bloggers Let Poll Cat Out of the Bag (washingtonpost.com, Nov 3, 2004)
Bush and Kerry: Real Differences on Tech? (washingtonpost.com, Nov 1, 2004)
Too Close to Call? (washingtonpost.com, Oct 29, 2004)
Shrek 3: The Wall Street Years (washingtonpost.com, Oct 28, 2004)
More Past Issues
A lot of the spiffier, Web-only features are from traditional media sites that have the people power and money to churn out polished "Decision 2004" packages. I am hesitant to push the mainstream press, when there are so many interesting blogs and alternative coverage, but many of the must-visit sites on my Election Tracking list are from media mainstays because they offer some of the more useful tools for watching the election from your PC. There are also election-only sites run by independent election watchers and number-trackers that are worth tracking for poll results and other election data. Here's a roundup of the best and coolest sites on my list:
Still trying to find where you need to go to vote today? Check out MyPollingPlace.com or MyPollingSite.com (if you can get on either site, which are balky today, probably due to traffic overload) . The latter has a helpful interactive map of the United States, which can be clicked by state and drilled down by county for finding your local polling location. Many of the major newspaper sites' election packages also allow readers to search for candidate information by Zip code.
Electoral Vote Predictor 2004 gives a running tally of where the blue (Kerry) states and red (Bush) states stand. This site even has downloadable spreadsheets on the latest polling data and other geek-friendly features for the obsessive election watcher (such as an Electoral College graph and online records for both Bush and Kerry). Electoral College Vote Calculator is another fun tool for Election Day monitoring.
Presidential Guidester is aimed at the undecided voters who are looking for a machine to match their beliefs with the opinions of others and find like-minded candidates to vote for. The site is produced by polling firm Zogby International and Decidia, a paid search company. The site explains that "Presidential Guidester allows users to select economic, social and budgetary issues, along with personal attributes of the candidates, and then provides a 'match percentage' to show which candidate best represents their point of view." Wired News today has its own write-up of the vote-matching service, as does CNET.
Some good spots to check past election statistics: a chart on election turnout by state from the 2000 election and a tally of historical election results from the Office of the Federal Register. Jonathan Dube of Cyberjournalist.net and MSNBC.com pointed readers to these links too, and a lot of other interesting election links in his own tip sheet.
MSNBC.com today is running an interesting clearinghouse of stories from the polls across the nation and is tracking problems reported by voters. The news organization is mapping complaint calls made to the Voter Alert Line, 1-866-MYVOTE-1. (MSNBC.com has a partnership with The Washington Post Co.)
The Wall Street Journal subscription-only site's Election 2004 page features a rundown of sound bytes from the candidates and other figures each day, accessible from a clickable calendar.
The Christian Science Monitor's Decision 2004 page has a unique election issues quiz. The paper also has a "Color of Victory" map to highlight the swing states, which is a good primer on understanding which states vote blue and which vote red.