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Posted on 11/02/2004 8:46:47 AM PST by crushelits
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.
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 (news - web sites) 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.
The New York Times' election page also features an interactive map with fundraising statistics and a look at how each state looks heading into Election Day. The Times has produced a PDF crib sheet of sorts on where Bush and Kerry stand on various issues, including the economy, abortion, the environment and Social Security (news - web sites). Check out "Times on the Trail," a blog-like feature with posting of daily campaign news.
USA Today's blog-type feature is ElectionLine, which has daily updates of news from the campaign trail and a sidebar of the headline of the day culled from other newspapers, is worth a read since it has timely updates on polls and also snippets of election news from the battleground states, including Florida. The paper's election page also has a helpful citizen's center to link readers to government services, elected officials and a local media guide, searchable by Zip code.
washingtonpost.com's election coverage also has this handy feature and a candidate search database. The site's Electoral College map will be updated throughout the election, and its Election Scorecard PDF form will come in handy for those of you handicapping the race in electoral-vote pools. For more information on the Electoral College, the Boston Globe, the paper of record for Kerry's home state of Massachusetts, has a helpful primer on the Electoral College.
The Los Angeles Times' online site has an interesting interactive poll, complete with 2004 statistics and a map of results from the hotly contested 2000 race. The poll can be found on the same spot with a state-by-state look at polling results, thanks to data from PollingReport.com.
The San Jose Mercury News -- which covers the tech hub of Silicon Valley -- has some of its better election coverage in its online columns and blogs. Tech columnist Dan Gillmor's blog has focused a lot of attention on e-voting woes in California, but also includes posts on tech topics ranging from Google to blogging. The paper has a graphic on the swing states, with links to coverage from various Knight-Ridder papers in a number of the states. Another blog, written by a team of Knight-Ridder journalists, is worth a look since it gathers string from different spots on the campaign trail. Another newspaper blog on the campaign to check out: the Cleveland Plain Dealer.
Wonder how much your vote matters? The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Web site, covering the swing state of Wisconsin, has an interesting graphic explaining how much each vote does, or doesn't count.
Both Bush and Kerry have tried their hand at speaking Spanish on the campaign trail to appeal to Latino voters. The Miami Herald's Spanish language edition, El Nuevo Herald, is one of the better spots to find U.S. election coverage in Spanish. The Senate race from the state is being closely watched by Latino voters, with Cuban-born candidate Mel Martinez, a Republican backed by the brothers Bush, against Democrat Betty Castor. The paper and the BBC teamed up for an audio special on the impact of the Latino vote.
Elections aren't just for citizens old enough to vote. Getting kids involved in the excitement of Election Day is a bit easier with some helpful online guides. Check out TakeYourKidsToVote.org, which has some helpful primers on the Electoral College and other fun voting facts. It's offered by the Council for Excellence in Government. One activity for elementary students is an electoral map that can be colored in as results come in. KidsVotingUSA has a collection of links for younger people, including a link to the White House for Kids site.
CNN.com has one of the sharper online election sections for a broadcast outlet. There's a list of the candidates' schedules, a fun "race tracker" feature, where you can track 20 races out of the 500 that CNN is covering. Fox News has its own race tracker. If you are away from the TV and want to watch rolling coverage of the election results (and have a high-speed Internet connection), C-SPAN's site is a great spot to watch the presidential election and other election day coverage.
National Public Radio is also streaming audio reports of its coverage, with commentary on results after 8 p.m. tonight. NPR's "Debating the Electoral College" feature has a solid primer on the Electoral College.
Bloggers have become part of the election coverage blitz and listing helpful blog sites to read for election coverage merits a list of its own. Blogs, or online Web logs, run the gamut from the left to right of the political spectrum and in between. Daily Kos, Talking Points Memo and law professor Glenn Reynolds's Instapundit.com are a few of my favorites for their strong voice, frequent posts and interesting message threads from readers in the blogoshphere. Blog search engine Technorati has a search tool to search political blogs and so does Feedster. Both are helpful starting points if you don't have a list of election 2004 blogs on your bookmark already.
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