YouTube Asks Voters to Record Poll Problems

What better way to cap off an election season in which online video has played a major role than by videotaping your trip to vote? YouTube and PBS are partnering to create Video Your Vote, a new project that asks you to document and share your voting experiences, including any problems encountered at the polls.

From now through election day, “registered United States voters” can upload video chronicling their electoral activities to the Video Your Vote YouTube Channel. Select videos will appear on TV as part of The News Hour with Jim Lehrer‘s election day broadcast, as well as other PBS coverage.

YouTube has been a participant in this election through programs like the YouTube debates, but now it’s courting controversy. The video site is inserting itself into the voter fraud/disenfranchisement debate by anticipating voting problems and explicitly asking users to document any troubles they encounter. From a YouTube Blog post:

“We’re looking for perspectives from polling places across the country that chronicle the excitement and energy at the polls, as well as any problems that may arise — like long lines or broken voting machines — that could prevent citizens from exercising their right to vote.”

YouTube even wants users to tag their videos of any issues with “pollproblem” so they can be discovered sooner.

Polling problems have become a staple of American politics in recent elections (hanging chads, anyone?), and the issue of voter fraud has become a hot-button topic in this election with new allegations rising in battleground states.

YouTube has always been a place for would-be citizen journalists to capture and share controversial news, but the video sharing site’s role is generally that of a passive host, and viewers would have to find the news on their own. Now it’s putting such news front and center, proactively making it easier for you to find. Instead of just being a repository, YouTube, dare we say it, might actually be trying to make a difference.