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Political Junkies Get Their Election Fix From Twitter

Twitter has become a favorite tool of serious news junkies. Increasing numbers of people are turning to the service and several related applications when major world events break, either to follow the news real-time or to submit their own updates and reactions.

On election day, Twitter will be the go-to place for many political junkies. Users are turning to the service for everything from reports on lines and voting issues to casting virtual ballots for their favorite candidates. An email sent to Twitter users this morning from founder and CEO Biz Stone wonders which Twitter URL -- @barackobama or @johnmccain -- will become that of the next president.

Twitter, of course, has its own filter for election coverage at Election 2008 powered by Twitter, and judging by the real-time scrolling updates, the flow of election-related Tweets is fast and furious. Its search feature also shows the U.S. election as the top of trending topics, with #votereport and "I Voted" the top two trends as of the publish time for this article.

Twitter Vote Report is a non-partisan volunteer effort based on the Twitter service that allows U.S. voters to Twitter reports from polling locations to alert other users to wait times and other voting conditions, including notification to the Election Protection Coalition if serious problems are occurring. By using Twitter, SMS, or an iPhone or Android application, voters can send reports of current wait times, voting machines issues, and other news by including location information and a hashtag: #votereport.

TwitVote is an app that allows anyone with a Twitter account to "vote" regardless of U.S. voting registration status. As of 10:30 Eastern Time this morning, Senator Obama had 16,106 votes to Senator McCain's 2799. The information is, of course, completely off-kilter since it allows a world-wide vote, but at least non-U.S. citizens have a chance to make their voices heard in an election being watching around the world.

For news updates, two accounts to follow are BreakingNewsOn and Vote08. Both are broadcasting stories and updates about the election; while BreakingNewsOn broadcasts all news headline, Vote08 selects just the news reports pertaining to the election coverage.

Of course, the real question will be how well Twitter handles the load this time around. Tuesday's elections may be the biggest news day that the service has had to handle to date, and while reliability has been much improved lately, it's nevertheless going to be severely tested.

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