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Google’s Heat Map of Voting Problems

As Election Day 2016 unfolds, the contours of the nation’s voting concerns are emerging via internet searches, with long lines most on the minds of Georgia voters and intimidation most preoccupying those in Pennsylvania and Washington, D.C., Google Trend data shows.

Google, an Electionland partner, is capturing not just searches of specific terms like “voter intimidation” but lots of other terms that show people are focused on voting problems. (Because, they’re Google.)

Here is a real-time map of what Google is seeing:

Bursts of blue reflect places where searchers are seeking information about provisional ballots. Arizona, Ohio and California had the highest interest in this topic, three to four times the national average. Splotches of pink mark areas complaining of broken voting machines, the biggest and brightest in Rhode Island and Pennsylvania.

Search interest about lines peaked at around 7 a.m. in Georgia, soon after polls opened, reaching almost five times the national average.

Google can also look deeper into state-level data to find localities where search interest in an issue is particularly intense. The city where interest in voter intimidation was highest? Pittsfield Charter Township, Michigan.

There are 3 billion Google searches on a typical day. Election Day is not typical, this year especially — election-related searches are 500 percent higher than they were for the same period in 2012, Google said.

Portrait of Robin Fields

Robin Fields

Robin Fields is a reporter with ProPublica. She joined ProPublica as a reporter in 2008, became a senior editor in 2010 and served as managing editor from 2013 to 2022 prior to returning to the reporter role.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

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