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Google Launches Open Source Voter Information Tool

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the hitchiker's-guide-to-the-ballot dept.

Google 104

An anonymous reader writes "Google announces a new Voter Information Tool which, as its name implies, can be used by voters to find relevant information such as where you can vote and for whom. The search giant is releasing the new feature just over a week in advance of the US Presidential Election on November 6. This raises the question: can Google influence the elections even more than it already does via lobbying?" I've found Ballotpedia useful as well.

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How Does It Raise that Question? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41830511)

This raises the question: can Google influence the elections even more than it already does via lobbying?

Could you explain to me how this tool raises that question? If you felt that Google was telling you to vote for Obama or Romney with this tool, which one was it because I didn't get a strong feeling for either ... it seems like they were just redisplaying CNN graphs and sending you to news articles. Take it up with the sites you land at and the popularity of their inflammatory headlines, not Google.

When I beg my coworkers, friends and family to vote, I'm not telling them who to vote for nor do I want to know afterwards. I only ask them to inform themselves and hit the booths on November 6th. How is Google's tool any different than that?

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41830579)

It's different because, it's a Voter Information Tool. They tons of information on Voters. They use that to sell ads and help out the Feds

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (4, Funny)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#41830889)

If only there was some sort of database out there with all the registered voter's information...

If only the "Feds" had access to such a database...

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (0)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41833447)

If only there was some sort of database out there with all the registered voter's information...

If only the "Feds" had access to such a database...

While I have no doubt that the Feds can get at the voter roles/databases....that is something that is actually kept at the state level. The Feds don't run elections...states do.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

zill (1690130) | about 2 years ago | (#41834003)

You're perfectly correct. When I said "out there" I meant "residing in various servers in each of the the 50 state governments". Since brevity is the soul of wit I was forced to keep it ambiguous.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (2)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41830895)

The fact that somebody is registered to vote and/or casts a vote is a matter of public record. What's secret is who's name you checked off on that ballot.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

RiscIt (95258) | about 2 years ago | (#41830753)

Hey now! He/She's just asking the question. No harm can come from that, right [wikipedia.org] ?

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (4, Insightful)

devjoe (88696) | about 2 years ago | (#41830755)

When I beg my coworkers, friends and family to vote, I'm not telling them who to vote for nor do I want to know afterwards. I only ask them to inform themselves and hit the booths on November 6th. How is Google's tool any different than that?

It's the same, but on a larger scale. Though your coworkers, friends, and family may not vote the same way as you, because you share some part of your life with them, they are more likely to vote as you do than not to. So by encouraging them to vote when they might not have done so otherwise, you effectively increase your political power just a little.

The same applies on a larger scale for Google. By providing this information to potential voters, they hope to encourage more voting, and voting by more informed voters. Whether this actually helps Google is not clear to me, but can it influence the election? Certainly.

This is also why there is all the controversy over voter ID laws. [propublica.org] Voters without government ID cards are seen as more likely to vote Democratic, so Democrats are trying to prevent these laws from going into effect while Republicans support them.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (2)

rvw (755107) | about 2 years ago | (#41831203)

When I beg my coworkers, friends and family to vote, I'm not telling them who to vote for nor do I want to know afterwards. I only ask them to inform themselves and hit the booths on November 6th. How is Google's tool any different than that?

It's the same, but on a larger scale. Though your coworkers, friends, and family may not vote the same way as you, because you share some part of your life with them, they are more likely to vote as you do than not to. So by encouraging them to vote when they might not have done so otherwise, you effectively increase your political power just a little.

The same applies on a larger scale for Google. By providing this information to potential voters, they hope to encourage more voting, and voting by more informed voters. Whether this actually helps Google is not clear to me, but can it influence the election? Certainly.

It could influence the election. I bet that they know for 99% sure whether someone is a Republican or Democrate voter. Plus they might know who is likely not to vote. With their ads they could serve non-voting Democrats and ignore Republicans with this information. I don't believe they're going to do something like this, and if they would and it comes out, they're in big trouble, much more trouble than with the wrong president in power.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (2, Funny)

guruevi (827432) | about 2 years ago | (#41832059)

Why would they be in trouble? As far as I know there is nothing wrong with gearing your message to a specific voter population. See Fox News for example, they have their message tailored specifically to ... let's say mentally challenged people ... and it seems to work for them.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (2)

sumdumass (711423) | about 2 years ago | (#41835965)

Yep, Fox New dominates the New channel ratings.

http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com/2012/10/31/cable-news-ratings-for-tuesday-october-30-2012/155488/ [zap2it.com]

I find it interesting though. In ratings, they lump the under 25 crowd in with the over 2 years of age viewers. It's not until you hit age 25 before they don't think of you as a kid somewhere between infant and adult.

Let me as you something though... Does it yank your chain that more people like Fox News then any other station? ERR I mean that the vast majority of people in the country think differently then you?

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

poetmatt (793785) | about 2 years ago | (#41831461)

Just because you know people by no means whatsoever implies that people share the same viewpoint as you. While people do have a bias towards wanting to find individuals who agree with them, that doesn't mean it's fact. If you tell an entire office of people that a voting tool exists, it doesn't mean that you're influencing the politics.

Can people voting influence the election? Yes. Can providing them neutral tools to find information, if they are already able to vote? No.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41832461)

Yes, it does imply that. Statistically, the people would willingly associate are likely to have views closer to yours. It's even more likely if you live in a state that leans heavily in one direction.

  " Can providing them neutral tools to find information, if they are already able to vote? No."
people base decision on facts*. Giving people accurate facts can sway a vote. I think that's fine, people should make decision based on actual facts, and change their mind when they find out that certain facts were wrong or more complex.

*sometime people are told lies as facts.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41833309)

People without voter ID don't vote. Someone else votes for them!

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

kqs (1038910) | about 2 years ago | (#41833635)

This is also why there is all the controversy over voter ID laws. [propublica.org] Voters without government ID cards are seen as more likely to vote Democratic, so Democrats are trying to prevent these laws from going into effect while Republicans support them.

Since many (most?) of the people affected by these laws are legal voters, and since there is virtually no in-person voter fraud, I'd think that many of the people trying to prevent these laws are doing so because they are patriots who hate to see laws which subvert the entire basis of democracy on which the US is founded. I cannot think of many cases where preventing legal voters from voting could possibly be considered a righteous thing to do.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41830785)

Simple: Google is a liberal biased company. Any work they put into "educating" and "informing" people is done **SPECIFICALLY** with the intent of electing Hussein Obama and the Tax-and-Spend-o-crats. You can deny it all you want, but this is obvious to anyone who has spent even one minute of time not being brainwashed by the liberal media and the liberals on slashNOT.

Vote Ron Paul.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41830861)

Okay so you're saying being educated makes you more likely to be a liberal.

Judging by the quality of your post, I assume you are not a liberal.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831001)

What's sad is, you think that correlation doesn't exist.

Many try to write it off as liberal professors indoctrinating youth, but then, how did the professors become liberal?

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41832483)

By living in a reality distortion field surrounded by others who think the same way. Couple this with the unrealistic idealism of academia and lack of a negative feedback loop and there you go. Liberal profs aplenty.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (2, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41830933)

Apparently, providing a way for ordinary people to discover information about reality is displaying a liberal bias.

For example, if you do a Google search on Ron Paul [google.com] , the first thing you find is Ron Paul's campaign website telling you that "Ron Paul is America's leading voice for limited, constitutional government, low taxes, free markets, honest money, and a pro-America foreign policy." Those evil biased bastards!

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 2 years ago | (#41830855)

The reason it could influence the election: One of the standard voter suppression tactics is to send out false and misleading information to voters about the time and place they can go vote.

That we should of course oppose all attempts at voter suppression falls on deaf ears for the groups that pull this kind of thing: They think that they should win whether or not they have the support of the population.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (3, Funny)

cayenne8 (626475) | about 2 years ago | (#41833553)

The reason it could influence the election: One of the standard voter suppression tactics is to send out false and misleading information to voters about the time and place they can go vote.

Absolutely!!!

And this year, let's broadcast it, to make it clear so no one misses there day to vote!!

Make sure and remind everyone, that this year, in order to accommodate a large voter turn out, and to make sure no one is disenfranchised, that we've split the dates for voting this year!!

Republicans (the challengers) vote first on Tues. Nov. 6th.

Democrats (the incumbents) will vote the next day on Wed. Nov. 7th.

Please make sure everyone knows this and gets it straight.....

Be Informed!!

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831047)

The only explaination I can see is that in every location I pulled up, and in every catagory in each of those locations, the Democrat was listed first with no rhyme or reason to the rest of the entries. For example sometimes the Libertarian would be next, sometimes the Communist Party, but it was ALWAYS the Democrat first with no other factor such as Alphabetical or other determining the order.

Additionally, the Republican candidate was never listed second unless it was only a two party ticket item.

Sorry this defies the possibility of randomness and indicates a clear bias in the listing of the choices, additionally, the plugin as I have seen it always ranks based ont eh Google preset, not based on site preference.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (1)

Stickybombs (1805046) | about 2 years ago | (#41831259)

Strange, in most of my races, the Republicans are listed first, followed by the Dems, then all the other parties. Maybe it stems from the way your state's ballot information is provided? Who knows.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41832613)

So I'm looking at my ballot for President now.

It goes "B, G, J, Me, Mi, R, V"

I'm wondering what the pattern is. Strangely the Senate is B (the Republican), M(the Democrat), K, M, S, D, J, M, T. US House is Democrat, Republican, Independent. The state senate is R(Republican), F(Democrat).

Of course my local ballot lists Mitt Romney first. In fact, all of the Republicans are at the top of the ballot option.

Sorry, but that defies the possibility of randomness and indicates a clear bias in the listing of the choices.

Re:How Does It Raise that Question? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41835369)

... in the same fashion that voter registration in poor communities does. Making information accessible and empowering people to choose whom they vote for on issues instead of soundbites is perhaps the most profoundly influential thing anyone may do to affect who actually gets voted in.

Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (5, Interesting)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41830533)

Let's face it, Romney/Obama isn't really gonna make much difference to me locally compared to the bond referendum that sits on the November 6th ballot. So why is it that neither of these sites contain any information or reference to the my county's proposal to renovate three libraries, build a fourth, expand and improve county and regional parks, rebuild three fire stations, renovate twenty two courtrooms and build a levee and pumping station to protect a community from floods?

I was hoping that Google would have figured out a way to mine this and give me more news and opinions on it. Maybe news items on historical perspectives of what good and bad came from the 2009 referendum?

In Ballotpedia's defense they have the 2009 referendum but no mention of the 2012 ... why do I not find any tools for local government? Is that too difficult and expansive to tackle?

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (4, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41830601)

Indeed. This election has been devoid of any discussion of any issues of importance. Neither major candidate has referenced the fact that the US imprisons more people than any other country in the world. Neither major candidate has noted that despite our love of incarceration, the criminals that caused the 2008 financial crisis still walk free. Drug policy has not made an appearance. Drone strikes have not made an appearance. The TSA has not made an appearance.

The only question in the presidential election is whether you want continued rule by someone who is owned by the corporate elite, or someone who is the corporate elite.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (5, Insightful)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41830695)

This election has been devoid of any discussion of any issues of importance to me.

FTFY

The issues that are being discussed in this election are the issues people (outside Slashdot) are talking about... taxes, abortions, debt, and the like. While we nerds are concerned about the flaws of deadly machines, statistical disparities in the justice system, and the disconnect between security theory and security theater, we are in the minority. Other people are concerned about silly things like killing babies, whether they'll be able to retire, and what country hates us the most.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (3, Interesting)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41830983)

Other people are concerned about silly things like killing babies

If that actually happened, nerds would be as concerned about that as anyone else. But infanticide is already illegal.

whether they'll be able to retire

Which is directly related to income inequality and holding the rich accountable when they plunder funds the economy needs to keep running.

and what country hates us the most.

Which is directly related to how many drones we send to drop bombs on civilians in that country.

Of the 3 issues you claim normal people are worried about, one is obviously irrelevant to anyone with a high school biology education and the ability to think critically. The other two are directly related to issues I raised which no candidate has raised.

Nerds aren't a niche interest because we care about stupid things that no one else does. We care about the same things everyone else does, we're different because we're informed.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | about 2 years ago | (#41831205)

Other people are concerned about silly things like killing babies

If that actually happened, nerds would be as concerned about that as anyone else. But infanticide is already illegal.

You realize that you're making the anti-abortionist claim, right? The life begins at conception (and not at birth), thus abortion is illegal because it's infanticide.

The pro-life argument that life begins at birth means aborting a fetus is not infanticide and therefore, legal.

For the religious folk, it's a very important topic, and why the abortion debate has shifted long into when life begins, and whether or not aborting is the same as murder or infanticide.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (3, Interesting)

Stickybombs (1805046) | about 2 years ago | (#41831291)

They don't care when life begins, or they would be lobbying for changes to the tax code too, allowing you to claim a dependent the moment a child is conceived. What they really want is control of you and your body when it suits their needs.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831735)

They don't care when life begins, or they would be lobbying for changes to the tax code too, allowing you to claim a dependent the moment a child is conceived. What they really want is control of you and your body when it suits their needs.

Someone please mod this up. It's never occurred to me that the anti-abortion movement should also be arguing that fetuses are dependents from the moment of conception. That's a fascinating insight.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41831509)

You realize that you're making the anti-abortionist claim, right? The life begins at conception (and not at birth), thus abortion is illegal because it's infanticide.

You read me wrong. If you're concerned about people killing babies, you don't have to worry about this election because infanticide is already illegal. Abortion is legal, but it has nothing to do with killing babies.

For the religious folk, it's a very important topic, and why the abortion debate has shifted long into when life begins, and whether or not aborting is the same as murder or infanticide.

All they have to do is take a biology class. Then they'd realize that "life" encompasses everying from the skin cells we shed to Abe Vigoda. Once you understand that, "where life begins" is an irrelevant question. We destroy human life every time we blow our nose or scratch an itch. What matters is when the human mind begins.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

sgtrock (191182) | about 2 years ago | (#41831711)

All they have to do is take a biology class.

No, all they have to do is (a) take a biology class from a competent teacher who presents the facts fairly, (b) accept that the teacher is honestly teaching the whole truth, (c) decide that the message either (c.a) doesn't conflict with their understanding of God (c.b) they are atheists and don't believe in God (c.c) are simply irreligious (NOT the same thing as atheists although there are similarities), (d) agree with your analysis of the lesson and finally, (e) recognize the implications.

Not quite as simple as you would believe. Similar decision chains need to be followed for every one of your position statements, btw.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41831877)

I'd argue that if you haven't had a competent teacher that presents the facts fairly, then you haven't really had a class. Yes, I realise that's close to a Scotsman fallacy, but sometimes things aren't really what they claim they are.

The rest of the chain follows from thinking critically, which I agree I should have included in my statement. All you need is a competently instructed biology class and the ability to think critically, and the fact that abortion is not infanticide is plain as day.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41832061)

It's not "close to" a No True Scotsman fallacy. It is a No True Scotsman fallacy. You're evaluating whether a biology class is really a class or not based on the unrelated attribute of whether the students adopt a particular perspective afterward.

You're also defining "thinking critically" as "thinking like Hatta". There is no acknowledgement that you may me mistaken - no falsifiability, as all science must have. You're glossing over the logical leaps, and emphasizing your particular conclusion as being the only right one. This is the point of my original comment: You're assuming your perspective is the only right one.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41832427)

You're evaluating whether a biology class is really a class or not based on the unrelated attribute of whether the students adopt a particular perspective afterward.

No, I'm evaluating the biology class based on whether the theory of evolution is accurately portrayed. How thoroughly ontogeny is discussed. What cellular differentiation is. What parts of the brain govern what function. And perhaps most importantly, whether they convey the fact that biologically humans are indistinguishable from animals.

If they do all that well, then the attentive student will adopt a particular perspective, just as a well instructed astronomy class will cause students to adopt the heliocentric perspective.

You're also defining "thinking critically" as "thinking like Hatta".

No, you have it the other way around. I strive to think critically about all topics at all times. If I am not thinking critically, I am being a bad person. Please help me out by presenting the arguments which I have overlooked.

There is no acknowledgement that you may me mistaken - no falsifiability, as all science must have.

How much acknowledgement of fallibility should astronomers offer when they discuss Ptolemy?

This is the point of my original comment: You're assuming your perspective is the only right one.

There is no assumption. I am always on the lookout for alternative perspectives that can explain the world as it is. Anti-abortionists have provided none. The strongest argument they have is to conflate "human life" with "a person", and hope that no one notices the difference. This is the perspective that any decent biology education will dispel.

If I'm mistaken, and they have a stronger argument, why aren't they using it? If you have a stronger argument, present it. I would love to be proven wrong. It makes me a better person.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41834327)

If they do all that well, then the attentive student will adopt a particular perspective

Or maybe not. Again you're defining how well the teacher teaches by what perspective the student develops, under the assumption that students must believe what they're properly taught. Reality is, no matter how well a teacher teaches, some students will inject their own meanings into the class, to come out with a different perspective. There's a few dozen biases in the way, and no class (or classes) will overcome them all. It is entirely possible that even with a full understanding of the mechanics of life, the student will still believe that the hand of God comes down at conception and blesses the zygote with a soul that eventually becomes the sentience of the person.

just as a well instructed astronomy class will cause students to adopt the heliocentric perspective.

And yet, the heliocentric perspective isn't correct in anything but the broadest sense. The Sun isn't the center of the universe, or our galaxy, or even our solar system. Of course it took two centuries to find that out, but that was still two centuries ago.

How much acknowledgement of fallibility should astronomers offer when they discuss Ptolemy?

Quite a lot. They should realize that Ptolemy's ideas were far better than his predecessors, but still incorrect, and similarly their own ideas may only be a better form of wrong.

I am always on the lookout for alternative perspectives that can explain the world as it is. Anti-abortionists have provided none.

On the contrary, they have provided the explanation that God plans for all people, including those in all stages of development. You just reject that out of hand because it's not your preferred explanation. It's not mine either, but I cannot prove them wrong. After all, the burden of proof [c2.com] lies with the one trying to change the other's mind. Your perfect biology class must not only teach biology, but disprove the preexisting theories of the students.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#41831799)

Abortion is legal, but it has nothing to do with killing babies.

Catholics, at the very bare minimum, would disagree with that statement.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41831907)

And they'd be factually wrong on that.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41832087)

[citation needed]

No, really... I want proof of the "fact" that abortion does not kill a baby. Not just general consensus among doctors, either... absolute proof.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41833613)

OK, we'll start with the assumption that killing a person is wrong (except in cases of self defence). We'll also assume that a baby is a person. If you disagree with these premises let me know, I'd be interested to find out why.

So now we have to find out whether a fetus is a person or not. If it's not a person it immediately follows that it's not a baby. You might think that we need a definition for "person" too, but we have an operational definition already. If it's OK to kill it, then it's not a person. Then all we have to do is consider the features that fetuses share with persons, and see if they make killing wrong.

A fetus has a beating heart. If this defined personhood, cheeseburgers would be murder.

A fetus has human DNA. If this defined personhood, amputations would be murder.

A fetus has totipotent cells which potentially create a person. If this defined personhood, removing cancerous tumors would be murder.

A fetus has a highly human face. If this defined personhood then will it blend [youtube.com] would be murder.

A fetus responds to the human voice. If this defined personhood, then canine euthansia would be murder.

And so on. Obviously we can't prove in the logical sense that a fetus is not a person, since we can't prove a negative. But as a practical matter we don't need to. We can eliminate the most plausible candidates, and then those who make the positive claim can shoulder the burden of proof.

So far, and I've asked a lot, no anti-abortionist has ever offered a definition of "person" that included fetuses, babies, and adults while excluding other life forms we kill willingly without resorting to magic, which obviously cannot be the basis for sound policy. Can you?

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#41834039)

You might think that we need a definition for "person" too, but we have an operational definition already. If it's OK to kill it, then it's not a person.

Circular reasoning. You claim that it is ok to kill a baby because a baby is not a person, and that a person is something that it's not OK to kill.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41836149)

You're right. That part of the argument is circular, but it's also superfluous to the main argument I think. The real question is "why is it wrong to kill a person". And then iterate through the characteristics of fetuses to see if that can be a reason we don't kill something. The rest of the argument is the same.

I'd also point out that the main anti-abortion argument is similarly circular. It's wrong to kill fetuses because fetuses are persons. It's wrong to kill persons because persons have souls. Souls which are very conveniently missing from all the delicious plants and animals they eat, and really any other form of life that doesn't gain them power over a womans reproductive system.

It's very simple. Just find a secular reason why killing is wrong. Then see if it applies to fetuses. Leave the "persons" thing out of it entirely.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (2)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41834309)

Slippery slope.

It's okay to kill humans under certain circumstances (self-defense &c.).

  - a fetus doesn't have a beating heart until almost halfway through the first trimester (5th week --- http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/prenatal-care/PR00112 [mayoclinic.com] )

  - an amputation doesn't result in the death of a person, and no portion of a person likely to be amputated is likely to develop into a person.

  - Cancerous tumors have no reasonable possibility to create a living person.

  - ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny --- a fetus doesn't have a recognizable, human face until well after the 8th week ( http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/844962-overview [medscape.com] )

  - ``A fetus responds to the human voice'' --- not until ~16 weeks

The problems w/ outlawing abortion are that enforcement of it requires an invasion of a woman's privacy which is problematic:

  - can't allow pregnant women to travel to anywhere abortion is legal (unless on effects a world-wide ban)
  - every mis-carriage / still-birth must be investigated as a potential murder
  - rape becomes an effective method for a man to procreate

For my part, I'd rather that all the effort which goes into anti-abortion to instead be put into caring for un-wanted children and single mothers. Once we've ensured that every woman who wishes to be pregnant is effectively cared for, then one might be able to justify doing something _to_ women who don't wish to be pregnant.

William

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41834867)

without resorting to magic, which obviously cannot be the basis for sound policy.

Why not? It's worked for a few thousand years already, and in many cases it was actually the exclusion of magic that was considered unsound.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41835853)

I'd argue that it's failed to work for thousands of years. Humanity is much less peaceful, healthy, and educated than it could be because of magical thinking.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41832465)

Catholics, at the very bare minimum, would disagree with that statement.

This is certainly true. For us, at least the ones who, in my mind, who seem to think critically about the issue, it's about whether or not the entity in the womb (the fetus) has rights and what those might be.

A lot of pro-choice proponents have attempted to say the issue is only about a woman's right to do what she wants with her body; or at the very least, saying that it is the main issue.

To say that the question of rights only applies to the pregnant woman honestly baffles me. I think we need to look at the issue in such a way where we ask "Does an abortion violate any entity's rights?" If it doesn't, then it seems to me there are grounds to perform abortions. If it does violate an entity's rights, the abortion seems (at the very least) morally dubious.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Hatta (162192) | about 2 years ago | (#41833701)

I think we need to look at the issue in such a way where we ask "Does an abortion violate any entity's rights?"

That IS the question pro-choice people ask. But the only relevant entity that is even capable of having rights is the woman.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#41834001)

So what consitutes an entity capable of having rights? A person? If so, at what point does a person come into existence? How is that a fact, as you said earlier [slashdot.org] , rather than an opinion, and why is it that other people's opinions on when a person comes into existence wrong? If it is not necessarily a person that constitutes an entity capable of having rights, then what is an entity capable of having rights?

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 2 years ago | (#41830797)

rich guys run the world.

and they like thing pretty much the way it is. afterall, the system, as it is, is what got them where they are now!

and their buddies.

its a shocker, I know. film at eleven.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (2)

guruevi (827432) | about 2 years ago | (#41832143)

If you followed the debates you may notice that both candidates have the same policies on those topics. Both Romney and Obama have said (on drone strikes, TSA, drug policy and guns): "I agree with the President" or "I agree with Governor Romney"

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (2)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#41830663)

If you really dont think tax law, healthcare, the supreme court, women's rights, military spending and deployment, etc dont matter to you locally, then please just dont vote.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41830769)

"But the choice doesn't matter! Both parties are the same!"

-Average uninformed Slashturd

Well, you know, until you actually do more than superficial comparisons of the parties. While I didn't vote for Obama and still don't want to, I can clearly see how Romney and the Repugs want to turn back this country to the failed social and voodoo economic policies of Reagan. Reagan is the reason we turned into the largest debtor in the world and every Repuglican does nothing but add more and more debt on top despite claims of "fiscal conservatism". Apparently that term just means spend lots of money but don't dare bring in tax revenue to pay for anything. Then whine and complain about government failure and inefficiency after spending all that money.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (4, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | about 2 years ago | (#41830789)

If you really dont think tax law, healthcare, the supreme court, women's rights, military spending and deployment, etc dont matter to you locally,

Wow, that's not at all what I meant by that statement ... what I meant was that these two presidents will most likely do the same thing on these issues. Do you really think Romney's going to repeal women's rights? Do you really think Obama is going to cut military spending? And even if they don't, they have to fight congress and the house on some of them.

The onus is on you to prove to me that the delta between Romney and Obama on the issues you mentioned will affect me locally more than all of the resources this bond referendum could supply. Yes, there are important national issues but I am saying that local issues are also important and nobody seems to care about them nor does anyone seem to report on them! Can't the mighty Google acknowledge their existence?

then please just dont vote.

Thanks, I respect you and your right to vote too.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (3, Insightful)

Kenja (541830) | about 2 years ago | (#41830995)

I think Romney would appoint a a heavily conservative supreme court justice who would over turn row v wade. I think Obama wont massively increase military spending like Romney says he will do. I think that Obama wont fight to repeal "Obamacare" killing my friend. I also dont think Obama will cut taxes in the same manor or extent that Romney will. There are major differences between the two candidates that will effect things far past their terms in office. Regardless of which you vote for, do so for a valid reason or stay home.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831093)

I think Romney would appoint a a heavily conservative supreme court justice who would over turn row v wade.

Romney Surrogate Assures Voters Roe v. Wade Will Remain Intact [christianpost.com] ... now what?

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831271)

This just in: Politicians lie. Film at 11.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41831301)

They don't need to overturn it when:

Like several states have recently attempted to do, Romney made reference during the GOP primary to eliminating government funds from Planned Parenthood, who is the nation's largest abortion provider.

effectively does the same thing by limiting access.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

medcalf (68293) | about 2 years ago | (#41831847)

The Supreme Court is no longer necessary to effectively overturn Roe v. Wade. Since Obamacare was ruled Constitutional, it is thus within the purview of the Secretary of Health and Human Services to decide what health care service may, may not, must or must not be covered by insurance or provided by companies and organizations. I see no reason why any President could not simply appoint a HHS Secretary who will ban abortion from being covered by insurance, provided by organizations, or paid for by the government. Whether or not exceptions are made is not relevant to the analysis. The point is, Obamacare is carte blanche for Roe v. Wade to be gutted administratively, even if the procedure is nominally protected by the Constitution otherwise.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Desler (1608317) | about 2 years ago | (#41832105)

The HHS can't ban the insurance companies from paying for abortions. Also, states have been blocking funding for and putting up
roadocks in the way of women getting abortions for decades before "Obamacare". Stop FUDing.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831057)

Do you really think Romney's going to repeal women's rights?

Repeal fully? No. Do everything possible to put up roadblocks to appease the far right that makes it a hassle to actually get medical services you want? Yep. Same with doing all possible to defund any family planning organizations who they disagree with that only ends up making it more likely that people will turn to abortions. Heaven fore fend that we actually inform people about sex and give them effective means of birth control.

What IS the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41832719)

It's not an either or proposition, or are you trolling?

your post is not a lament (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41830707)

it represents an opportunity

someone industrious: put that together and reap the traffic ranking such a resource obviously would represent

someone partisan who would stultify and imitate a mock website of such a resource to manipulate outcomes: no, not you. fuck off and die. earn your plutocrat cash by being the whore you are and sucking plutocrat cock, and stop destroying our democracy as the plutocrat's goon

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41830799)

I bet your county is doing all of these things while being broke too... probably worse, heavily in debt... kinda sounds like Obama is running it...

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (3, Interesting)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 2 years ago | (#41830821)

why do I not find any tools for local government? Is that too difficult and expansive to tackle?

Having worked on an election-information site, I can tell you definitively: yes.

Every state chooses its own process for elections, and often each municipality can change that process as they see fit. There is no requirement that information about the ballots be made available in digital form. There is no requirement that any particular format be used. In some places, the only description of what's on the ballot is a small notice in the local weekly newspaper, and the ballot itself. Even a list of candidates is hard to get for some technology-opposing areas.

When I worked on my particular election site, we had eight people on staff, and five of them were working full-time collecting information from newspapers, government agencies, and sometimes phone calls to the candidates themselves.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (2)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#41830927)

I know what you mean. I just finished my absentee voting and the amendments are written to specifically into tricking you into voting "yes".

For example, amendment 4 in Alabama states on the ballot that voting yes removes all references to segregated education. In reality, that one sentence has been invalid for over 3 decades. I got suspicious and research the bill that was mentioned on the sample ballot and found out that the bill actually removes all language in the State's constitution guaranteeing a person's right to a publicly funded education. If the amendment passes then the state legislature will be allowed to right laws that funnel money from education into their personal pork projects.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

Bill_the_Engineer (772575) | about 2 years ago | (#41830959)

Or worse make it legal to discriminate against people with mental or learning disabilities.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831549)

The short answer is:
It's hard to get this information. It's hard to QA it.

People often don't realize what actually goes into figuring out where people vote and what is on their ballot. They often think there is a centralized place in each state that holds this info (this is only true for a small number of states), or an easy way to get the information. We helped to start a non-partisan/non-profit voter information project in 2008 to help standardize and collect official information. The number of states participating has increased dramatically over the years, but it's still not 50. This also often only gives you state level races, county level races are another matter County level ballot questions are even crazier. There are roughly 3000 counties in the US (it depends on what you consider a "county").
Assume we could get feeds from every single one. QA'ing 3000 feeds requires a large amount of resources on both sides. Counties don't have these resources, they have money troubles these days. We could pay for it. But then we need to ensure it gets fixed. We need official answers to questions about whether this is a typo in the feed or whether it really appears on the ballot that way, etc. Meanwhile, they've got an election to run :). It's a tough situation.
The typical hand-wavy solution of "crowdsource it" just doesn't work (it's been tried many times).

We could scrape data. Still have the QA issue. Still need to know whether the scraped data is officially right or wrong.

Google is also a much bigger target than these other places too. If ballotpedia gets it wrong, someone on the internet complains. If Google gets it wrong, it becomes a major press story.

Re:Where's the Part of the Ballot that Matters? (1)

geekoid (135745) | about 2 years ago | (#41832475)

It will, becasue you bond interest rate may be impacted, as will the willingness to lend.

"This raises the question" (0)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41830643)

if you can show me where google lies, then it raises many questions

if the information is accurate, then fuck you

because your "question" seems to imply that empowering citizens to exercise their basic rights is "influence"

republicans, when they aren't busy sucking plutocrat cock, are doing their darnedest to disenfranchise and discourage poor citizens from voting

so if you want to worry about influence, focus your "fair and balanced" attention on those antiamerican assholes

otherwise your "question" represents pretty much exactly what is wrong with politics in this country

submitter is a manipulative douchebag, shame on you slashdot editor for preserving the obvious plutocrat funded propaganda in the submission

Re:"This raises the question" (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41830801)

Because clearly the Republicans are the only evil politicians in this country. The Democrats are innocent little angels who are just fighting for the rights of the common man. They are the absolute vanguard of personal liberties. They can do no wrong!

Mmmm, yummy kool-aid! What's in it?

Re:"This raises the question" (-1, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41830869)

you tell me with a straight face al gore would have invaded iraq

you tell me with a straight face a republican legislative and executive domination won't slash taxes on rich, remove all social safety nets, and deny things like the right for gays to marry and the right to abortion

yes, the democrats are innocent angels, when compared to the douchebags we call the GOP, by a long shot

Re:"This raises the question" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831859)

Your tinfoil hat looks really neat, where can I get one for myself?

Next you're going to tell me that Dick Cheney is evil, George Bush is uneducated, and Nibiru is real but we just can't see it because the government is blocking our telescopes with their evil brainwashing radiation towers. Nice talking points. Too bad they're all blatantly false. Repeating it over and over again doesn't make it true.

In the words of XKCD, "God, I'd like to file a bug report."

Re:"This raises the question" (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41835827)

tell me with a straight face al gore would have invaded iraq

go ahead

Re:"This raises the question" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41838673)

Al Gore would have invaded Iraq.

But of course it doesn't mean jack shit other than the fact that you have no use relevant topics to discuss aside from a decade-old failed political campaign.

I hope you're not afraid of heights, because the view from your high horse would be absolutely terrifying.

Re:"This raises the question" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41830827)

Because democrats would never do anything bad or lie...keep telling yourself that if it makes you feel better, also keep telling yourself that google is simply doing this out of the goodness of there heart...LOL

cognition fail (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 2 years ago | (#41830931)

in a complex society, all institutions are compromised somewhat and have some dirt on them. you will never have the choice of a credible political party or credible corporation that is squeaky clean

what you are left with, is the choice of the lesser evil. those who hate this fact are not making a valid intelligent opposition to something that they can change, they are throwing a temper tantrum because they are unwilling to accept a simple fact of life that will never change

so someone saying there is no difference between something more evil than something less evil is what we call an idiot

Re:"This raises the question" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831247)

Well done, another politely written well thought out response to an issue you obviously care much about.

It is conversation like this that always has me asking myself why there is so little valid communication in this world. I mean how could anyone not enjoy a civil chat with an obviously well educated person such as yourself.

I commend you for taking the full advantage of that Obama Chicago style public education, you learned a lot and have chosen to hone those skills further. I can definitely recommend you as the face of the Obama Chicago Public Education arguement in everything thing you submit.

Oh, and maybe you give a little something about yourself away with your constant insistance on cock sucking. Me thinks thou doth protest too much there CTS.

Voter Tools (3, Interesting)

kodiaktau (2351664) | about 2 years ago | (#41830777)

Voter tools like Publius [publius.org] are far more valuable than the collection of graphs from Google. Voters need a single place to research and look for information about their ballot. Especially for voters on border lines with other states, issues are muddied as TV and radio aren't focused enough to hit just their target market. Looking at a single place where your ballot is laid out is much more effective.

The organization and source of the Google data is questionable in my mind. Not sure why they have chosen to group things the way the did in the Insights tab and makes it look suspicious.

Re:Voter Tools (2)

asylumx (881307) | about 2 years ago | (#41832443)

Not sure why they have chosen to group things the way the did in the Insights tab and makes it look suspicious.

I'm not sure if maybe we're not looking at the same thing, but the layout looks to me like a list of topics on the left grouped by which debate or which overall topic they regard, and the corresponding poll data on the right. What is "suspicious" about that?

charisma wins elections (1)

alen (225700) | about 2 years ago | (#41830887)

that's what i learned after 30 some years in the US

reagan vs the troll carter telling people to wear a sweater
reagan vs the socialist mondale
bush 1 vs the gnome dukakis
clinton vs bush
bush 2 vs al bore
bush 2 vs another monster by the name of kerry
obama vs mccain who looks like he's always chewing tobacco

in the US good looks, charisma and speaking ability trump issues all the tim

So? (1)

StripedCow (776465) | about 2 years ago | (#41830919)

So, where can I find information about open source software to vote for?

Also, could some slashdotter please start a crowdsourced/crowdfunded lobbying platform like kickstarter? I'm tired of only big companies doing the real lobbying, and I would be happy to pay some dollars to people doing the lobbying for me.

Poll Booths. THAT'S SO CUTE! (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#41830941)

It's really cute how you guys are all still spending your days going to voting booths. It's jsut so . . . QUAINT!

In Oregon, we've been voting by mail for more than thirty years and in federal elections for twenty years. We haven't had voting booths or polling centers for two decades.

Re:Poll Booths. THAT'S SO CUTE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41833925)

It's really cute how you guys are all still spending your days going to voting booths. It's jsut so . . . QUAINT!

In Oregon, we've been voting by mail for more than thirty years and in federal elections for twenty years. We haven't had voting booths or polling centers for two decades.

What's quaint is that you believe that you are voting and that your vote is applied to the candidate that you wanted it applied to!

Re:Poll Booths. THAT'S SO CUTE! (1)

Seumas (6865) | about 2 years ago | (#41834175)

I won't want any of these idiots and am not voting for them, so it doesn't matter. At any rate, you missed the point.

Re:Poll Booths. THAT'S SO CUTE! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41836301)

I won't want any of these idiots and am not voting for them, so it doesn't matter. At any rate, you missed the point.

Apparently it's you who missed the point, which is that vote-by-mail balloting is the worst possible form of voting from a security standpoint, worse even than the most corrupt of the Diebold machines. What you want is manned voting booths with paper audit trails and multiple volunteers monitoring the scanners and maintaining observational and physical control over the ballots. Of course if you're not voting at all, then why are you bothering to wax smug about Oregon's (and now Washington's) inferior voting mechanism?

Primitive. Expected www.isidewith.com - like (1)

WillAdams (45638) | about 2 years ago | (#41830955)

quizzing and social integration.

William

(who aligned w/ one of the 2 main party candidates at www.isidewith.com but is voting for Gary Johnson, Libertarian)

Oh come on (1)

WOOFYGOOFY (1334993) | about 2 years ago | (#41831031)

This raises the question: can Google influence the elections even more than it already does via lobbying?

You're in John Birch territory now. Explain to the uninitiated how informing people who they can vote for and where is "influencing the elections" like lobbying for a cause does.

Is it perhaps because when it's easy for citizens to vote, the *wrong* people end up going to the polls and voting for the *wrong* policies?

This is the kind of headline that gets through Slashdot now? This is what we are now?

its name implies (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831469)

Google announces a new Voter Information Tool which, as its name implies

To me, the name implied that Google was going to be tracking voters so that appropriate political adds may be provided to them.

"Open Source"? Really? (1)

bziman (223162) | about 2 years ago | (#41831585)

Come on, we're Slashdot. Let's not misuse terms like "Open Source". Those words, together, mean something specific! This is a "free (as in beer)" web tool. It's not a software application at all, and it certainly isn't Open Source (which would imply that we have access to the source code, and a license like GPL, BSD, or Apache to use it).

Re:"Open Source"? Really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41832381)

The source code to the voting gadget is available under an open source license, the source code to the API is not :)

Ordering..... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41831851)

Odd, every race had Democrats listed first. In Presidential, Romney was listed 7th (it seems to be alphabetical by first name?). But in other races, it looks like the Democrats are always listed first, even if it's not by first name.

Influencing the Elections (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | about 2 years ago | (#41832017)

The data Google has on my district is woefully inaccurate.

It lists the same election as multiple different elections. For example, there's a State House 2, and a State House 002 ballot listed, with the challenger appearing on one, and the incumbent AND challenger on the other.

Then it has "Auditor," and "County Auditor." Same office, incumbent on one, petitioner on the other.

Google has some work to do. I sent them these issues so hopefully they will address them, but I kinda doubt it.

Project Vote Smart (1)

honestmonkey (819408) | about 2 years ago | (#41833789)

Project Vote Smart is another place to go for information.

SuperVote.org (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#41833807)

I found SuperVote.org helpful (especially here in California), because it allows me to view and share endorsements with my Facebook friends. There are at least 10 different ballot measures in CA and seeing endorsements from them has helped me decide for certain measures.

No Good (1)

Curunir_wolf (588405) | about 2 years ago | (#41834065)

I guess it's "Beta" (like pretty much everything Google puts out)? In my district, it lists the mayoral race, but includes only the incumbent, not the challenger. It also fails to include the Independent candidate for the Congressional district, and completely excludes the proposed Constitutional amendments.

The amendments are not only arguably the most important items on the ballot this year, but also the ones voters are in most need of being educated about.

If my Google + stream is an indicator, (1)

pecosdave (536896) | about 2 years ago | (#41837461)

then it's only for Democrats. Maybe only for Obama.

I'm not a Democrat or a Republican, what I can tell you is over the past couple of months every time I look at Google plus I get barraged by pro Obama crap and I've seen one pro Romney post - straight from the Romney campaign. I know - probably the biggest difference - between left and right wingers is the need for solidarity. Solidarity practically defines left wing so they are more likely to "ripple" by resharing anything that reaffirms their opinions and positions, but I know enough right wingers to know they do enough of their own resharing that they should have at least 10% of the "what's hot" feed.

I'm convinced Google is rigging the What's Hot feed the same way they used to rig the top search results for Bush to turn up embarrassing and negative things while the ones for Obama were positive.

I'm going to go scoff at Obama and Romney now and go vote for Johnson.

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