Correlations between Google searches leading up to the 2012 presidential election and voter registration records have suggested that an additional 3 million to 4 million voters could have voted if registration had been kept open through Election Day 2012, according to assistant professor of political science at Carroll College Alex Street, who performed the study announcing the findings.
In essence, says Street, the millions of search results for “register to vote” were vastly incongruent with how many people actually signed up to vote–and those 3-4 million would have registered if they could. These findings vindicate California’s and Illinois’ decisions to allow Election Day voter registration and flies in the face of restrictive registration windows in Florida, Ohio, and North Carolina, says Street.
It seems that the White House, at least, is catching wind of how technology is increasingly surfacing–and can help remedy–inefficiencies in local and federal government processes. President Obama hired data whiz DJ Patil–and Fast Company Generation Flux-er–as chief data scientist at the White House back in February, where he will broadly develop and shape the U.S. government’s data science policies. The administration also just brought on Facebook engineering director David Recordon as the first director of White House Information Technology.
If President Obama can get his new Silicon Valley hires to examine data and point out government shortfalls the way Street and fellow researchers have, he might have an easier time pushing his radical idea that “we shouldn’t be making it harder to vote. We should be making it easier to vote.”