Can Foursquare Make Voting Cool?

4square vote

Update – Noon: 11,751 voters have checked in from 7,440 locations. Video of Crowley talking elections and astronauts below.

Foursquare users who glance at their mobile apps this morning will notice something new: polling stations near them pushed to the top of the Places page.

On top of this, Foursquare has created a special “I Voted” badge, which unlocks as soon as a user checks in to a polling station.

Will location notifications and game mechanics help to get out the vote? It’s certainly an interesting experiment. As of 9:15 a.m., more than 3,800 folks had checked in to vote at some 2,300 locations all over the country.

“We use game mechanics to encourage people to do things we think they’ll be really excited about doing,” Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley told Read Write Web. “It could be traveling to different countries or seeking out new places or new experiences. I don’t think of it so much as a game. It’s using the mechanics to, you know, influence behavior and try to change behavior a little. And I think that really plays into some of the stuff we’re doing with the I Voted Badge.

The group skewed 2/1 male to female, although this probably reflects the demographic of Foursqaure more than gender participation in our grand democratic process.

When all is said and done, Foursquare should have some interesting data on which polling stations saw the most activity.

Add this to the city’s official Twitter tag for reporting problems at polling places and there is going to be a more detailed snapshot of how the election played out at the street level than ever before.

bpopper [at] observer.com | @benpopper

Crowley Talks Astronauts, Voting via Game Mechanics and Foursquare’s Incredible Growth