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02/11/2010 | Google polling app misleads voters

Tony Romm

Google can help you research candidates, watch their ads, poke fun at their gaffes and find out how they did on Election Day. But the site hasn’t exactly fared so well at getting voters to the right polling places.


One of the search company’s Election Center apps, which helps citizens find their assigned ballot boxes, has served up a series of errors that may have sent some voters to the wrong polling places.

A study Tuesday by Aristotle, a political technology company, predicts that perhaps more than 700,000 households in a collection of 12 battleground states may have experienced errors on the site that told them to head to the wrong polling stations.

“If you’re being sent to the wrong polling place, it’s a pretty big deal, especially if it’s toward the end of the day, and especially if it’s an election that’s closely contested like 2010,” said John Phillips, CEO of Aristotle, which maintains its own ballot box location service called

Aristotle premised its prediction on a series of simulations: The company selected about 1,000 households in targeted states, compared their polling place data against Google’s app and derived an error rate it later used to predict the number of area households possibly affected by the mishap.

Google spokesman Aaron Zamost said the company is working diligently to fix the problem and “make sure it reflects the most up-to-date information provided to us by the board of elections.”

The search engine encourages users to let the company know whenever it finds a mistake in the data, which it has compiled through state election boards and the Voter Information Project.

“Anyone who finds a discrepancy can report an error using the link provided at the bottom of the page,” Zamost said.

But the mishap still provoked a harsh rebuke from Aristotle. “Google is a great company, they do things well – this is not one of them,” Phillips said. (Estados Unidos)


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