#USelections2012: Voter App-rehension

This Week: For the election's home stretch, a guide to apps that help get out the vote and steer undecided voters.

By
October 30, 2012 14:00
3 minute read.
Apple's new iPad mini

iPad mini. (photo credit: REUTERS/Robert Galbraith)

 
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The primaries have come and gone, the conventions have come and gone, the debates have come and gone, and the two US presidential candidates and their supporters are looking election day square in the face.

With only seven days to go until the US presidential election, and an endless supply of contradictory polls promising only a tight race on November 6, many analysts believe that the election will be decided on which party gets their bases to turn out and vote.

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In case you weren’t sure how they and other civic-minded groups would help that happen, don’t worry: There’s an app for that.  Or several.

For starters, there are basic apps from all the news sites (CNN, New York Times, NBC, Fox News and Politico, to name a few), which help people stay informed and even play out possibilities on ubiquitous primary-colored electoral maps.

The Obama campaign debuted a nifty canvassing app to help its volunteers find events, voters to talk to, brush up on their talking points with useful localized statistics.

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Amid the avalanche of questionable campaign advertisements, Politifact has a "Truth-o-Meter" app to help voters sort through the dubious claims, while the Sunlight Foundation’s Adhawk app can help interested citizens track what donors and groups are behind the ads in the first place. But even getting the basics of complex economic plans may not be enough, so Politify has an app that will explain how each candidate’s tax plan will affect individuals based on their income, specific locales throughout the country, and the nation as a whole.



In many states, the ticket does not end after the list of candidates. Voters are asked to consider ballot measures, which do not get nearly the same level of attention as the presidential or even congressional races.  A special ballot initiative app by GOOD lays out which potential laws are on the ballot, and the best arguments for and against them. Deeyoon, an Israeli company (meaning discussion in Hebrew), can help the undecided voter delve deeper into the issues; its website offers head-to-head discussions on a slew of interesting issues, political and otherwise.

Of course, Internet-savvy politicos who are concerned for their privacy may want to steer clear of any campaign-related websites at all.  As The New York Times reported, the 2012 campaigns have become increasingly sophisticated at tracking potential voters, tailoring their online messaging based on Internet browsing history and social media connections.

And finally, for those who have already cast their ballots or have made up their minds and are tired of hearing their social media friends preachily prattle on about the political horse race, there is a solution. Several extensions for Google Chrome will block out political updates on Facebook and Twitter. One such app from Buzzfeed, will even replace them with the best the Internet has to offer: adorable pictures of cats.

The desire for feline escapism is understandable given the election’s extreme partisan wrangling. Donald Trump, for example, promised a “bombshell” about US President Barack Obama, which turned out to be a bizarre offer to pay $5 million in charity if Obama made public his college transcripts and passport applications.

Tweet of the Week:

From the other side of the aisle, yet another two amusing pro-Obama clips featuring celebrities, emerged, one with Girls star Lena Dunham likening voting to virginity, and the other with Hollywood sci-fi writer Joss Whedon making the case that a Romney administration would bring about the zombie apocalypse.

Viral Videos of the Week:



Bring on the cats.

#USelections2012 offers weekly insight into the US presidential election through a social media lens, tracking candidates as they try to reach 270 electoral votes in 140 characters or less.

The writer is a Breaking News editor and blogger at
The Jerusalem Post. Read his blog ‘The Bottom Line’ here.

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