Register to Vote Layer – and other stuff – in Google Earth

[UPDATE 22-October: This layer has been replaced by the new 2006 US Election Guide Layer]
[UPDATE 10-October 1515 ET: there were other updates as well - see below. Also, see comments from Google's GE CTO Michael Jones on the new Vote layer.]
Register to Votein Google EarthWell, I opened up Google Earth this morning and there was a new layer turned on: “Register to Vote”. Placemarks for each state in the US have a link to registering to vote for that state and a reminder of the deadline for the November 7th elections. Now Google is helping out the political system out. If you’ve already registered, or are not interested in voting, then you simply turn off the “Register to Vote” layer in the Layers pane on the lower left. I’m curious whether only people with IP addresses in the US see this layer, or if everyone in the world sees it? According to non-US GEB commenters below, it does appear in other countries. I think Google should not do this as a layer unless they can constrain it to those people who it matters to. For now, they should default it to turned off.
Got a tip on some more updates: The Google Earth Community Layer updated to October 1st. This means all placemarks posted to the correct forums now appear in the layers. It appears Google is getting better about doing this more regularly. The featured content layer was updated for corrections. Also, the Digital Globe layers, which shows you the available images and dates from DG’s library, has been updated through September.

About Frank Taylor



Comments

  1. Leo Harolds says:

    I don’t live in the US, I live in Belgium. I also saw the Register to Vote layer. I’m not really sure that’s a good thing. Some people in this part of the world, or other parts of the world, aren’t too pleased with Americentricism. I don’t mind it myself, but I can understand that some do have a problem with it.

  2. Martin Hooper says:

    The voting layer is still showing here in the UK…

  3. Maybe they should have added it to the US. Government layer, and a sub-layer. What do you think Frank?

  4. US citizens abroad have the right to vote too for the November elections, and they have to register thru their home state, so it may prove usefull for US citizens (or armed forces or merchant marine etc) to help them vote if they want to.

  5. My take on the issue of “Americancentrism” above and (Frank’s question “why not US-only”) is based on a slightly different view of intent. Like many things, intent and perception are largely a reflection of the expectations you bring to the subject.
    We would like to have voter registration information for all societies in the world where voting is allowed. Today is the first step toward that. If someone in Belgium will send us information about similar dates and websites in that country, then expect to see that data in a future update. (For ‘Belgium’ read ‘any country with elections’.)
    Everything in Google Earth is intended to be global; but every actual action tends to start somewhere local, where the data is first available. The last database update a dozen new classes of layers applicable worldwide by populated only in Japan because that’s where we had the data. This example, mutatis mutandis, is also that of the voter information.
    The best response is to locate some voter data in your country and send it to us! As to why it is on by default, it is because potential voters who don’t vote need, by definition, that extra nudge.

  6. You won’t need such a service for Germany fortunatly. Every adult citizen with a german identity card is automatically registered to vote. If an election appears, a month before the date you get a letter from the city where you live stating what vote is about to happen, when it happens and where you have to go on the day to cast your vote. Show your identity card there and you can cast your vote.

  7. This data is not “Americancentrism” :) For my it is good example of GIS technology. Thanks to GE team.

  8. I live in Brazil and i see the Register to Vote Layer.

  9. Hey, I live in the US. I am registered to vote. Turn off the layer? NOT GOOD ENOUGH! It’s taking up space on my screen. I want it gone. How do you delete layers?

  10. I live in Cape Town South Africa and saw the layer. I imediately thought “Americancentrism”. However, having thought about it, I agree with others that maybe the problem is that the rest of the world hasnt yet had the foresight to send the data to Google earth.
    I actually dont mind having a new layer turned on by default, to let me know it is new. However people on dialup may not like it.
    I think it is a good example of the potential of Google earth though it should be put in a category somewhere.

  11. Jarno Peschier says:

    [Small soap box]
    I live in Holland, and the situation here seems to be the same as in Germany: everybody is registered at the city they live in and this registration is automatically used to send everyone a voter card in time for any election (national, provincial, local, as needed). With that card you can go to your designated vote location, show up with ID and vote. You can also take action yourself to use that card to vote in other locations in the same city, or even in other locations.
    In other words: we don’t need a “Go Vote!” layer in GE, except perhaps as a reminder. In case you want to add it: next elections are national and are on the 22th of november. But even that reminder would never get the “penetration” as the TV commercials and the temporary, government placed billboards for political parties to put up posters on would get, so I still think such a reminder in GE would be totally unnecessary, if not silly.
    Because of this situation I don’t really mind that the US vote layer exists at all, but I do take (minor) offence in the fact that it is shown top level AND turned on for everyone on this earth by default. And also in the fact that given this situation, it is shown with that blatant American icon to boot. Yuck! Google should have just put it into the US Governmental category somewhere, in my opinion.
    Even in spite of the great comment about expectations from Michael Jones, I think it’s a bit sad that this happens, just because his own comment seems to work against him, given the situation in other countries. Not every country works like the US does. This just shows that even the obviously global minded people of Google Earth seem to have difficulty getting loose of the (implicit?) cultural thinking of “World = US” that seems so very prevalent on the North American continent, no matter how hard they try!
    We should congratulate them on trying though, and I sincerely hope they will continue to do so, but I still think the US vote layer should be better of in some lower category, or at least it should default to being turned off.
    [/Small soap box]

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