Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A digital election day

Polling day seen through new media:

0700 As polls open, I receive an e-mail from my dentist: "Cast your vote for XXXX Dental!" Is this the best of marketing ploys?

Screengrab of Facebook polling day box0940 Facebook has put what it calls a rooster on every UK profile asking users to say when they vote. So far the counter already has 190,000 votes.

1000 Various people reporting they have received a text from David Cameron. Here's how the Conservatives describe it on Twitter:

"Over 100,000 people just received a text message from David Cameron, urging them to vote for change on this historic day."

One tweeter's response: "Crikey - what mobile package is he on?"

1015 Facebook vote counter hits 240,000.

1100 YouTube's home page features the Vote Conservative ad. Political videos are getting lots of views - not just the Conservative one but a speech by Gordon Brown earlier in the week.

1300 Great picture posted on Twitter from outside a polling station. Its veracity cannot be authenticated.

1315 The number registering that they have voted on Facebook goes through 500,000.

1400 The BNP's website, Twitter and Facebook pages all appear to be out of action amid reports of a falling-out between the party and its webmaster.

1600 Guido Fawkes, the right-wing blogger, reports a Labour source as saying that Morley and Outwood, the constituency of Ed Balls, is going to be close. Mr Fawkes - real name Paul Staines - has been running a vigorous campaign with his Sunlight Centre for Open Democracy to get the Labour cabinet minister unseated and provide the Portillo moment of the campaign.

1700 One tweeter reports: "First time I've ever been to a polling station with more than 2 people under 50 in it. And they said they'd been busy." It will be interesting to see what has happened to turnout amongst the young this time.

1730 Emmeline Pankhurst has been trending on Twitter in the UK all day. It seems the name of the suffragette is being used to try to inspire people to get out and vote.

1800 An image of David Cameron, in the style of an Obama poster with the message "Hope", appeared on the front page of the Sun today. Throughout the day it has been heavily spoofed - one version with the message "Nope" has now been viewed more than 100,000 times.

At an online betting site, a hung Parliament is still the favourite outcome, with the odds on a Conservative overall majority lengthening just a little in the last couple of hours.

1805 The Facebook vote counter breaches the one million mark.

1900 Lots of reports on Twitter of high turnout, busy polling stations etc. The Conservative Ed Vaizey says:

"38 polling stations visited so far. Turnout significantly higher. I predict 77 per cent."

And here's Labour's Tom Watson:

"Everyone I speak to is reporting a very high turnout. That's London, midlands, north west and Wales."

2000 Political journalist Gaby Hinsliff tweets:

"early fone calls elicit news: 1. LD vote softer'n thought. 2.LD vote harder'n thought 3. DC got majority 4. DC just shy of maj"

2045 Sarah Brown tweets:

"thank you everyone who has sent me lovely, warm, supportive and positive messages - what a great crowd you all are!"

2115 Rumours are beginning to fly around the social networks about what the exit poll mat say. None of them looks well sourced.

2145 Nearly 1.7 million people have told Facebook that they've voted.On Twitter party spindoctors are calling for one last push. The Conservatives say:

"Final call - you've got thirty minutes to get to your polling stations if you haven't voted yet."

And more hints of a high turnout: "Can the polls stay open if there are still people in the queues?"

2155 David Miliband says on Twitter:

"Thanks to everyone for their amazing efforts on the ground. Truly inspiring. Let's hope it all pays off."

2200 And now as the exit poll is published, predicting a hung parliament, the social networks gear up for a long night of reaction and commentary.


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