Google and its YouTube unit will again collect videos taken by voters on Election Day, Nov. 6, in an effort to produce a video record of the day and its events across the United States. Google and YouTube conducted a similar effort on Election Day 2008 with its Video Your Vote program.
"Tomorrow, voters across the United States will head to the polls to cast their ballot in the 2012 election," wrote Olivia Ma, a member of the YouTube News and Politics team. "Regardless of whether you’re a veteran or first-time voter, taking part in the electoral process is a powerful experience, and one that we know many of you will document in some way, just like you did in 2008."
The videos taken by voters during the 2008 General Election included sometimes shaky footage of polling places, interviews with voters and more election-related, real-time coverage, usually taken by nonprofessionals. That's what Google and YouTube are expecting and encouraging on this Election Day.
"We want to see and hear from you tomorrow," wrote Ma. "Whether you’re vlogging (video blogging) about which candidate you support, capturing footage of the long line at your polling place, or encouraging your friends to get out of the house and go vote, we’re inviting you to send us your Election Day videos."
To contribute your videos to the effort, you can post them on YouTube, then tweet them to @YouTubePolitics or include #YouTubePolitics in the video title.
Selected video contributions will be featured on the YouTube Elections Hub, according to Ma. Contributors should be aware of the state laws in their area for guidelines about what polling place activities are allowed where you live. Participants can also consult the Citizen Media Law Project’s Documenting Your Vote project before bringing their cameras to their voting precincts to ensure that they are not violating local laws.
In the 2008 Video Your Vote program, millions of videos were posted on YouTube that chronicled the experiences of voters around the nation on Election Day.
Meanwhile, voters who still need help finding their polling place locations or are looking for more information about the candidates in their communities can use Google's Voting Information Tool, which provides resources on just about everything they need to know about the upcoming Nov. 6 elections in the U.S.
The tool allows users to enter their address to find information on their polling place, early voting locations, ballot information with links to candidates’ social media sites, and voting rules and requirements in their voting districts.
Earlier in October, Google created the ability for online users to hold virtual presidential debate-watching parties that allowed them to "watch" one of the debates between President Barack Obama and challenger Mitt Romney inside a Google+ Hangout where their friends could also gather.
The Oct. 16 event, which was created by Google's YouTube unit, allowed groups of friends to watch the event live while sharing snarky comments online.
The first presidential and vice presidential debates were both streamed live on network television as well as online, including on YouTube's Election Hub site.
The virtual debate-watching parties came just two months after YouTube unveiled its YouTube Elections Hub, where voters can visit to view streaming video of the candidates and races through Election Day on Nov. 6.
The site covered streaming video of both the Republican and Democratic national conventions and includes videos of a wide range of political events since the conventions.
The content there is being provided by a diverse range of news organizations, including reporting and analysis from ABC News, Al Jazeera English, BuzzFeed, Larry King, The New York Times, Phil DeFranco, Univision and The Wall Street Journal, according to YouTube.