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Foursquare Goes to the Polls (Updated with Delicious Polling Place Data Tie-In)

BY Nancy Scola | Wednesday, October 27 2010

Geo-social platform Foursquare gets an "I Voted" badge and check-in visualizer, reports Politico's Morning Tech:

The “I Voted” site, which will go live on Nov. 2, is also being used as a testing ground for how data from the Foursquare system can be used in the 2012 elections. About 60 percent of Foursquare’s 4 million users are based in the U.S. and the number is growing. “In 2012, we’ll be able to provide more valuable demographic information because our user base will hopefully continue to grow,” said Foursquare spox Erin Gleason. (Note to badge aficionados: you can earn a special Election Day badge on Foursquare when you check into a polling place and shout out about voting.) 

It's possible to look at this as an upgrade to the 2008 Twitter Vote Report project that we had a hand in (with many other partners). The technology's improved; Foursquare is showing some fast adoption, and it's based on geo-location principles that Twitter hasn't really developed all that fully. One aspect of TVP that's doesn't seem to be here in the Foursquare case is the notion that election-day check-ins could help communities manage their own voting experiences, from creating a ruckus when polling places run out of ballots to letting their neighbors in on wait times. But, as Foursquare's spokesperson notes above, with a bigger base of users there's much that could potentially be done to make voting a more social experience.

The Foursquare "I Voted" initiative is a project of JESS3, which you might remember is the firm that last week partnered with NASA to pull off the first Foursquare check-in from space.

More, and what I should have said: I missed an obvious tie-in to something we'd recently talked about, and some proper crediting. First, the credits. The team behind the "I Voted" project was a big one, drawn together by an petition started by Direct Media Strategies president Jordan Raynor, which ended up including Twitter Vote Report vet Tracy Viselli, Engage DC's Mindy Finn and Patrick Ruffini, the Electoral Map's Patrick Ottenhoff, Bush White House e-communications director David Almacy, and others listed here.

And then, the tie-in. And it's a good one! Remember the Voting Information Project's new dataset of polling places across the country, released just a few days ago. The Voting Information Project is a joint project of Google, Pew, the New Organizing Institute, and many of the same players involved in this Foursqaure effort, and its mission has been to pull together all the muncipal data on polling locations scattered across the country into something that people can use to build apps and tools to better American elections. I wrote at the time, "there's no real way to make the idea of a coherent data set of polling place locations sound sexy or exciting, but it's incredibly important stuff." Shows what I know. Writes Raynor, "The data we were able to share with foursquare via the Voting Information Project proved to be a critical cornerstone to this" sexy, exciting "project’s launch."

Foursquare's site will go live on election day, November 2nd, on Raynor shares a sneak peak: