In order to help voters find ballot drop box locations, Google has added new election-related features to Google Search and Google Maps.
The new features, which became available on Friday, make it easier for users to find information on about how and where to vote, according to a Google blog. With Google Search, users can search for into with queries such as "early voting locations" or "ballot drop boxes near me" in order to vote early or drop-off a mail-in ballot.
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Once a location is found, Google Maps will give the user directions to a ballot box or voting location, and provide information on voting hours. Google Assistant users will soon be able to ask "Hey Google, where do I vote?" in order to find nearby voting information on their Assistant-enabled phone, smart speaker or smart display.
"After you’ve selected a voting location or ballot drop box in your area, you can click through from Google Search or Google Assistant to Google Maps for quick information about how far it is, how to get there, and voting hours," according to Google's Yunhan Xu, product manager, in his blog. "Similarly, if you search for your voting location in Google Maps you’ll have easy access to the feature in Search to help you confirm where you can cast your vote."
Voting locations and ballot drop boxes locations are even more important this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which has led to more voters using mail-in ballots. In some states, there have been hours-long lines for early ballot voting.
Google has partnered with the Voting Information Project as its source for voter location information. The Voting Information Project is a partnership between Democracy Works, which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic organization, and state election officials
Ahead of next month's election, Google plans to list more than 200,000 voting locations across the U.S.
For places where voting locations are not yet available, Google will direct users towards state and local election websites. As more locations become available, or if there are changes, Google will continue to update the information provided across Google Search, Assistant and Maps, according to Xu.