Google can now show you how and where to vote

Searching at Google on such phrases as "early voting locations" or "ballot drop boxes near me" can help you learn where to go to vote.

Election Voting Ballot Box

Sergey Tinyakov, Getty Images/iStockphoto

Voting has always been a critical right and privilege of living in a democracy, and sadly one that many people have often chosen not to exercise. In a year that's grappled with a crippling pandemic, political discord, and social unrest, voting in this year's election is even more vital. But with early voting, absentee ballots, and changing polling places, knowing where and how to vote can be a challenge. Now Google is trying to do its part to help you overcome that challenge.

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In a blog post published last week, Google explained how you can learn where to vote directly through its search engine. At the Google search page, typing certain voting-related queries will steer you in the right direction. Searching on the phrase "how to vote" shows you key dates and deadlines for voting as well as links where you can register to vote, check your registration status, request an absentee ballot, and check your ballot status.

Searching on the phrase "early voting locations" prompts you to enter your street address and then shows you a list of locations where you can vote before Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3. Many areas have already opened up for early voting or will be opening up sometime this week.

Searching on the phrase "ballot drop boxes near me" provides a list of official locations where you can drop off your ballot. This is especially important amid reports that "unauthorized" ballot boxes have appeared in certain locations, most notably in California.

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Beyond using the main Google search engine to find voting information, you can use Google Assistant and Google Maps. Using Google Assistant on your phone, you can say: "Hey, Google. Where do I vote?" In response, Google Assistant asks you to enter your address and then shows you your nearby voting locations. From the results, tap the Directions icon for a specific location, and Google Maps provides you with the directions to get there.

Typing such phrases as "early voting locations" and "ballot drop boxes near me" in Google Maps takes you to Google's search engine where you can enter your location. From the results, tap the Directions icon to go back to Google Maps to see the directions for getting there.

Specific results won't yet be available for many areas in the country but should appear as Election Day gets closer. If you come up empty on a search, wait a day or two and then try again.

The voting information from Google comes from the Voting Information Project, a partnership between the nonprofit and nonpartisan civic organization Democracy Works and state election officials. Through this project, Google said it plans to provide details on more than 200,000 voting locations across the country.

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