Google is adding new election features to its voice assistant, Google Search, and Google Maps, to make it easier for US citizens to find voting locations ahead of the election next month. In Google Search, queries like “early voting locations” and “ballot drop boxes near me” will give details about where you can vote in person or return mail-in ballots, while asking the Google Assistant where to vote will “soon” provide relevant information on your phone, speaker, or smart display, Google says.
Then, once you’ve found a location, Google says its Maps service can now give you directions to voting or ballot drop box locations, and will provide information about voting hours.
Information like this is especially important this year given many more voters are expected to use mail-in ballots in light of the pandemic. Google says it has partnered with the Voting Information Project to source the voting location information, and plans to list over 200,000 voting locations nationwide. In cases where this information is not available to provide directly, Google says it will point users towards state and local election websites.
As well as proactively providing voting information, Google and its subsidiaries are also attempting to limit the spread of voting misinformation, including claims about mail-in voting. Just last month, YouTube unveiled new rules targeting misinformation about mail-in voting. However, Google was criticized back in August for failing to remove misleading ads about voting by mail. President Trump has repeatedly claimed that mail voting will result in fraud.