As you may have noticed by now, we're big users of Twitter here at NPR, particularly when it comes to politics. About a year ago, we created a Twitter account now known as nprpolitics to talk about the election. If you've never used Twitter before, it's like a conversation you keep in your pocket; you can use it to send messages to large numbers of people, and receive them as well, using your mobile phone or computer. And it's full of news junkies, making it a great place to talk politics.
On the day of the Texas caucuses, we noticed that a number of Twitter users were reporting problems at their caucus location — for example, fire marshals prohibiting further entry at sites that had reached maximum capacity. It got us wondering how we could use Twitter to get the public's help us with our election coverage. For instance, we invited Twitter users to help us fact-check the presidential debates by posting URLs of primary sources that would refute claims made by the candidates. We ended up getting more than a dozen stories generated because of that help.
So when Nancy Scola and Allison Fine of TechPresident.com wrote a blog post about using Twitter to collect eyewitness reports of voting problems, we jumped at the chance to get involved. In a matter of just a couple of weeks, the Twitter Vote Report was born. A network of volunteer software developers, designers and bloggers created a number of ways for you to share information about your voting experience, such as long waits, broken voting machines or insufficient ballots. We'll then monitor the results and incorporate it into our election coverage when investigating voting irregularities.
And you don't even have to be on Twitter to participate: we've set up a number of ways you can submit your own vote report.
Texting. Send us a text message at 66937 and begin it with the phrase #votereport. (Be sure you don't forget the pound sign.) Include your ZIP code and a very brief description of the problem. You can include other keywords to help pinpoint the problem; see below (link) for more info.
Voicemail. Starting this weekend, you'll be able to call (567) 258-VOTE (8683) from any phone and record a message. (We'll post an update once this feature is live.)
Twitter: Send a tweet with the phrase #votereport, then include your ZIP code and description. There are other keywords (link) you can include as well.
iPhone and Google Phone: We've create an iPhone app you can download from the Education section of the iPhone app store on your phone. There is a Google Phone/Android version as well. (link tbd)
YouTube: In conjunction with PBS and YouTube's Video Your Vote project, you can upload a video and report any problems you experience.
No matter how you post your Vote Report, we'll be able to see it — and so will you. We'll soon post a map of the results on the NPR Web site. In the meantime, we invite you to participate, so you can help us report on any problems at the ballot box.