Election day is upon us, and millions of people across the U.S. are ready to vote. But what if you don’t know where to go?
The Internet hasn't exactly covered itself in glory this election cycle, playing host to all kinds of sometimes-reliable, sometimes-outlandish political statements and serving as the venue for more than a few heated exchanges over the U.S., its future, and whether Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump is the right choice. But despite all that, the Internet can also be a useful tool for figuring out what's on your ballot and where you can cast your vote.
Here's where to turn for help.
Google has once again released its polling place search tool, making it easy for you to find out where you need to go to fill out your ballot.
Head to Google's home page right now, and enter any number of search queries related to the election and your polling place. Typing “where am I voting?” into the search box today and tomorrow (Nov. 7 and 8) will prompt Google to display a search box above its standard results. You can also cut to the chase by clicking on the election-themed Google Doodle currently gracing the front page, which will take you straight to the results for a "where do I vote" query.
A box on that page appears where you can enter your address. Google then display the place and address for your polling place, as well as its hours. The search results also include a Google Map and the ability to get directions from wherever you’ll be coming from to the polling place.
Under the polling place information, Google displays some other helpful tools, including a guide on what you’ll need to bring with you to your polling place on Tuesday to vote for your candidates. The search feature also includes a look at your 2016 ballot.
Note that Google's polling place finder isn't foolproof. In a couple of cases, Google incorrectly displayed polling places for some Tom's Guide editors and contributors, autofilling the wrong home address which resulted in errors like instructing an editor based in Northern California to go vote in Los Angeles. The problem is less likely to occur if you go into Google Maps and set your home address by clicking on the Menu icon and selecting Your Places.
It’s a similar story at Facebook, where the world’s largest social network is trying to get Americans thinking seriously about voting on Tuesday.
Facebook’s Election information isn't entirely focused on finding out where your polling place might be. Instead, Facebook aims at trying to keep you informed by showing your ballot and giving you the option to research the person on the social network.
First up, you need to input your home address into Facebook’s Election page. Facebook says it doesn’t keep your address and won’t share it with anyone. From there, it displays your ballot and gives you the aforementioned opportunity to learn more about the folks. Once you figure out who you want to vote for, Facebook helps you create a cheatsheet of sorts and email it to yourself for reference on Tuesday.
But again, Facebook’s tool is a little hobbled. We had some trouble inputting our address into the search, leaving us with no ability to find a ballot. When we were finally able to see a ballot (though not our own), it only included a few of the races and not all of the issues voters will be required to sound off on Tuesday.
As for finding your polling place, the Elections 2016 page on Facebook includes a Get Directions section to tell you where to vote. Click on the Find Polling Place box and enter in your address; you'll leave Facebook for the Get to the Polls website, which will include a map showing your polling place relative to your home address.
If you don't want to rely on Google and Facebook to find your polling place, you can always turn to the website for your local elections board — usually searching for your county's registrar of voters is a good place to start. In the vast majority of cases, those sites will not only tell you where to vote and what times polling places are open, but also what’s on the ballot. In our testing, those sites proved most reliable and didn’t suffer the same shortcomings as Facebook and Google.
So, at least when it comes to elections, Google and Facebook, the Internet’s most important giants, still can’t quite match your local resources.