Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Google receives patent for Online Voting Interface

Google recently received a patent for an online voting interface. Google’s plan is to eventually use their interface to vote for governor or president. As for now the aim is to use the technology for entertainment and social surveys. “The patent includes a computer implemented voting method comprising user authentication, identifying user-indexed content through the search engine, identifying contestants, [and] receiving votes,” claims Nick Cappella. With the online voting interface, you can create “very immersive entertainment experiences,” says Erza Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. Instead of calling in your votes, you can vote online which is faster and provides the results instantly.
Potential uses for Google’s product is for companies to pay them to hold polls for them. Google’s interface, “With integrated searches directly related to the voting question at hand, voters would be better informed about their choices” (Cappella). Additionally, “By processing votes in real time, user preferences would presumably be more accurately recorded and instantaneous with voting” (Cappella). Starbucks, for instance could have a vote on the “The Next Coffee Flavor”. The technology will allow “Google to handle both fun campaigns and serious political campaigns” (Gaudin).
            I think that this is a very smart move by Google. There is becoming a growing lack of participation by people through voting. Google, with its many resources will be able to encourage participation in numerous polls. Companies, who normally have difficulty receiving customer feedback may find it worthwhile to pay Google to hold a poll for them in order to satisfy their customers and enhance their consumer experience. I think that Google’s primary aim is to create a system to vote for the president as soon as they have a more secure online identity. The United States voter turn out for political elections is continuously falling for numerous reasons, one of which is the lack of convenience. Currently, voters have to go to their nearest poll to cast their vote. With an online voting interface like the one that Google has received a patent for, voters will be able to cast their vote from anywhere without having to take off from work or traveling out of their way. Additionally, as the article noted, the voting interface could be used for entertainment shows. It could prove to be more efficient for entertainment shows who release polls to vote off a contestant. With an interface like Google’s, a show can release a poll and receive enough responses to close it and report it by the end of the show.
            In my mind there are little downsides for Google receiving this patent and beginning to create an online voting interface. The only question is whether or not it is worth the time and investment for Google in regards to its return and cost. There is a relatively low barrier to entry for creating an online voting interface and Google can soon be finding numerous competitors. However, with Google being such a well-known company, I think it will be able to withstand competitors, making the biggest danger being the government not allowing Google to hold political elections online. Additionally, there could be concern for fraud with online voting that would inaccurately represent their intended respondents.

Capella, Nicky. "Google Submits Patent for Online Voting." The Stack. N.p., 18 Feb. 2016. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.

Gaudin, Sharon. "Google Wants You to Be Able to Vote Online." CIO. N.p., 17 Feb. 2016. Web.   29 Mar. 2016.


  1. In the middle of an election year I was very interested in this technology because it would help increase availability and ease for the nations citizens to vote. I also agree with your statement that Google as a company would greatly benefit from being the first to advance into virtual voting. However, I do believe that this technology would be better suited to complete surveys and polls for companies, rather then for casting national or statewide political polls. My main reasoning for this belief is that there is no way to prevent possible network hacks from happening. In an article I found on verifiedvoting.org, they warned that ballots sent over the Internet could never be completely protected from cyber attacks. Through online voting, users information may be put at risk, as well as the authenticity surrounding the outcome of the votes. I believe there is a high possibility that someone would be able to hack the system and submit more votes for the candidate that they favor. Also, I believe it is unrealistic the United States would transfer over to complete online voting because there is a percentage of the population that does not have regular access to the internet. In conclusion, I believe that online voting would be beneficial when complying survey data, but not as an efficient and safe way to run elections for state and federal offices.

    1. https://www.verifiedvoting.org/resources/internet-voting/

  2. I think Google is at least a couple years away from being able to use this technology to hold presidential elections. As with any major changes, it’s going to be met with resistance by people who like things a certain way or the original way they were done. Although the voting system we have now does result in less participation, it is more secure. I think it will take a serious problem like how the punch-card ballots in Florida resulted in “hanging chads” when users improperly punched holes to cast their votes. In the meantime, I think Google’s voting technology can be very useful for businesses. Like you mentioned, they can be used for customer satisfaction surveys or letting customers pick a new flavor such as in Starbuck’s case. I think another interesting implementation would be to hold shareholder meetings over Skype or with another telepresence technology, allowing shareholders who couldn’t make the meeting to virtually attend and cast their votes. This would make companies much more efficient and prevent drawing large crowds for in-person talks. Instead of companies using Google’s technology to get outside opinions, they can turn inside and connect their own business in ways it’s never been done before.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.