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Google Searches for Role in Political Process

Google CEO Eric Schmidt, speaking in Denver today, pledged to help bring citizens into the political process. “If we can make civic duty participation fundamental, it’s better for the country,” Schmidt said.

Google, the world’s largest Internet search engine, is looking to partner with local election officials to provide essential voting information on Google Maps, such as finding where to register to vote or where the nearest polling site is located.

At a town meeting in Denver, Schmidt acknowledged that each election over the last 12 years has been billed as the election in which the Internet would change the outcome. He recalled how the Internet had influenced the 2008 primary process.

“If you think about the self-reinforcing nature of traditional media, 25 years ago, it was impossible for anyone to be a legitimate or powerful challenger to the incumbent in the media,” he said. “But the Internet allowed [Democratic nominee Barack] Obama and a very small team to raise enough money, … and that created the opportunity for Obama to become a challenger.”

Schmidt also noted that Google was helping people who do not have direct access to the Democratic and Republican conventions. The company is offering 3-D models of the stadiums. It has cameras that show what’s going on inside the halls, and opportunities for those inside the convention to post videos online.

“There is an important community that doesn’t have a seat at the table. We want to let the people in using different technology,“ Schmidt said.