It's an election year, which means that if you aren't already registered to vote, you should really get on that quick! And if you aren't exactly sure how to do that, don't worry — Google just unveiled a "How To Vote" feature to break down the various requirements for each state. All the better to participate in democracy.
Over the past few years, voting has been getting more difficult in many places. The Supreme Court decision overturning Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in 2013 has resulted in closed polling places, particularly in communities of color. And numerous state legislatures have instituted new policies such as voter ID laws. Many of these policies result in a suppression of the vote from certain demographics.
And there are also other, less sinister, obstacles, like the fact that many states' websites are just flat-out confusing. It isn't always easy to figure out when the registration deadline is, what materials you need to supply at your polling place, or other important details.
Between the new policies and the lack of clear information, it can make figuring out how to vote very difficult.
If only it were that easy.
To help with the problem, though, Google has unveiled a new feature. Now, when you Google the phrase "how to vote" or any other variation, it provides you with a helpful tool at the top of your search results. You can select the state you live in and see an overview of their policies, all laid out clearly and concisely.
So, for example, here's the basic information for my home state of Colorado.
And the info about our (totally awesome) option to vote early by mail, which all voters are automatically allowed to do.
It also lays out the type of identification you need — and fortunately, they're still pretty inclusive.
Now that I live in New York, though, I needed to change my voter registration last year. And having tried to navigate the small font of the New York State website, I really wish that this — or Google's "Register to Vote" feature that rolled out in July — had been available then.
And if you aren't sure if you're eligible, the handy "Requirements" tab up top, it lays out all the information you need.
So if you still need to register to vote — and you should absolutely register to vote — it's now easier than ever to figure out the requirements.
Google noted that they've seen voting related searches increase sharply this year, and say that they hope this new feature helps people understand the process. "We’re committed to making it easy for people to find information, and have their voices heard in November," they write on their blog. "We hope these insights and features inspire you to register to vote, exercise your civic duty, and get to the polls in November!"
Images: Giphy; Emma Cueto/Bustle (5)