Google is pulling another lever on its influential search engine in an effort to boost voter turnout in November’s U.S. presidential election. Beginning Tuesday, Google will provide a summary box detailing state voting laws at the top of the search results whenever a user appears to be looking for that information. The breakdown will focus on the rules particular to the state where the search request originates unless a user asks for another location. Google is introducing the how-to-vote instructions a month after it unveiled a similar feature that explains how to register to vote in states across the U.S.
The search giant said its campaign is driven by rabid public interest in the presidential race between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. As of last week, it said, the volume of search requests tied to the election, the candidates and key campaign issues had more than quadrupled compared to a similar point in the 2012 presidential race.
It’s difficult to predict whether Google’s efforts will have a major impact on how many people cast ballots, says Michael McDonald, a University of Florida political scientist who closely studies election turnout.
That’s because Google will narrowly target its voting instructions to people who are actively seeking that information. Sample requests that will elicit a helping hand from Google include “what do I need to vote,” ”when can I vote,” ”what is the absentee ballot deadline” and “can I vote by mail.”
The summary boxes won’t appear for broader requests pertaining to the election, such as “Clinton” or “Trump.” That means Google may primarily end up helping out “politically engaged” people who’d be likely to cast a November ballot even without prodding from the world’s most popular search engine. “It’s an open question on how large the positive effect will be,” McDonald said.
Full Article: Google’s search engine directs voters to the ballot box.