The 2010 US elections may see some new faces at the capitol, but it will also usher in some new uses of geo-location technology. Foursquare has announced today that it plans to provide real-time visualizations of the 2010 elections on November 2nd, using check-ins and geo-location data at the polling booths.
Voters will be asked to check-in at their polling booths and include an #ivoted hashtag in their message, receiving an “I Voted” badge in return. This badge is reminiscent of the stickers or pins that many polling booths give out to encourage voters to participate.
The check-in data will also be used to visualize the civic participation of Americans across the country. Visiting elections.foursquare.com on November 2nd will reveal an interactive map of America that will show individual voters at the more than 107,000 polling booths from coast to coast. You will be able to view demographic data like gender by clicking through this map.
Data visualization experts JESS3 are behind the map itself. Foursquare and JESS3 teamed up with Voting Information Project and Engage to gather the data from the more than 107,000 polling locations. Other partners for this project include Pew Research Center, Google, and Twitter Vote Report.
Until it goes live on November 2nd, the Foursquare elections site has a countdown to election day, and information about the project. It also links to Vote411 so that voters can ensure they have all of the documents and other things they need before they head to the polls.
Foursquare notes that the 2010 election visualization project is designed for two purposes: to encourage civic participation and to prepare for the 2012 election. We can assume that this technology will be replicated and tweaked so that it is running smoothly for the federal election two years from now.
Elections have always been a time to try out new technologies, and this year is no exception. Hopefully by visualizing elections and encouraging people to check-in at the polling booths, Foursquare will play a part in increasing voter turnout, especially among youths. At the very least, it should encourage people to be part of the political conversation occurring around the country, as they see their neighbors, friends and family go to the polls and check-in to have their voices heard.
And to make voting even easier, the Foursquare visualization is one of several social media voting tools available this election season to help voters in their civic duty.