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It’s not just you: Google Trends is showing long waits to vote

The Google News Initiative and Pitch Interactive are tracking searches on election day–and revealing that long lines are a serious problem.

It’s not just you: Google Trends is showing long waits to vote
[Photo: Andrew Caballero-Reynolds/AFP/Getty Images]

Today, Americans are heading to the polls for a chance to either show support for the Trump administration and its Republican Congress or to let the Blue Wave roll in. But first, we all have to wait in line.

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All over the country, voters are anecdotally reporting incredibly long lines–and data backs them up. A real-time visualization of Google search data shows that searches related to “long wait times” are spiking all over the country.


According to the map, which was built by Google News Initiative and Pitch Interactive, it’s not just your polling place that’s overrun with people. For instance, at 11:53 a.m., the national average of people Googling “long wait times” spiked by 481% in Bluffton, South Carolina. At 12:24 p.m., that search was skyrocketing by 566% in Newburgh, Indiana. An animation starting at 6 a.m. Eastern Time shows these spikes hitting dozens if not hundreds of polling places around the country, especially around 1 p.m. Eastern–lunch time–and morning on the West Coast.

While some see this as a positive indication that more people turned out to vote in this election, others call the long wait times another means of voter suppression. After all, not everyone has the luxury to stand in line for hours to cast their vote.

Whether you view it as a sign of hope or a sign of all the work that still needs to be done, do your best to stay in line. Even if the polls close while you’re waiting, you will still get a chance to vote.

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About the author

Katharine Schwab is an associate editor based in New York who covers technology, design, and culture. Email her at kschwab@fastcompany.com and sign up for her newsletter here: https://tinyletter.com/schwabability

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