As Election Day played out in polls across the country Tuesday, its course was tracked—in minute detail—by Internet news sites, watchdog organizations and Webloggers, much as they had done most every day over the past several years.
According to reports, voters packed polling stations. Some of them encountered familiar problems such as lost voter registrations and malfunctioning machines, but other voters faced new electronic voting machines, put in place for the first time in this election. The new technology led to some confusion both for voters and for poll officials.
While voters swamped polling places nationwide, they also rushed to the Web. The election Web sites of the presidential candidates, news sources and blogs were among the top destinations.
A day before the election, the sites of both candidates recorded traffic surges. GeorgeWBush.com received 317,000 unique visitors on Monday, a 103 percent jump from the average of the four previous Mondays, according to data from comScore Networks Inc. JohnKerry.com saw a 128 percent increase for the same period with 306,000 visitors, comScore reported.
For online news sites, the trend was similar. On Monday, five of the top sites together had an average of 15 percent more traffic than for the previous four Mondays, comScore said. The five sites analyzed were CNN.com, FoxNews.com, NYTimes.com, USAToday.com and WashingtonPost.com.
Over at MSNBC.com on Tuesday, election interest was lifting site traffic. By Tuesday afternoon, visitor traffic was more than double the amount of a typical day. At a time of the day when the news site typically receives about 60,000 simultaneous users, it was receiving about 140,000 simultaneous visitors Tuesday, a spokeswoman said. And that increase was before election returns began to stream in.
Meanwhile, Slate.com kept a running list of exit-poll results as the vote moved across the nation. The results came from a new organization called the National Election Pool, which six news companies formed to conduct research for the 2004 election.
Left-leaning political blog the Daily Kos was among the sites reading the election tea leaves from exit polls as polling places began to close Tuesday evening. The blog was receiving several hundred thousand page views an hour, Markos Moulitsas Zuniga wrote in a post.
"Forgive this site, and many others across the Web, if we flake out every so often," Moulitsas wrote. "Its not a fun time to be a Web server."