By Martin Bryant, TheNextWeb
One of the closest elections in history is being fought out in the UK today, but how should you follow it online?
Much has been made of this being the first “Social media election” in the UK but online engagement and campaigning hasn’t quite reached the levels seen in the USA during the most recent presidential race in 2008. Still, on polling day today there are lots of ways of keeping up to date with last-minute dramas and the results themselves.
Who’s voting, and where?
Let your friends know you’ve voted using Facebook’s “I Voted” button, available to UK users today. This will update your news feed to share the news, and there’s a counter to track how many Facebook users have voted.
The Guardian is using a Twitter mashup to plot votes on a map. Just tweet #UKvote along with the first half of your postcode to be included on the map.
Of course, these tools show more about who’s happy to share that they’ve voted, rather than anything of great use. Far more interesting is ExitPol.ly. Just enter your constituency, tell it who you voted for and you’ll add yourself to a crowdsourced exit poll that might just indicate which way the nation’s vote will swing.
Unfortunately, live results from each constituency have been pulled from the service as it is illegal to show exit poll results before polls have closed. You can see what the service would have looked like (complete with a live updating pie chart) over at TechCrunch Europe. Instead, Exit Pol.ly will publish results after 10pm tonight.
Let’s have a heated debate
Twitter has been a fertile hotbed of discussion throughout the run-up to the election. It’s only likely to get even more interesting as polling day progresses. Follow the hashtags #ge2010 and #UKvote to catch the latest discussion.
Facebook has its lively Democracy UK page, which is worth keeping an eye on too.
After polls close
When the voting’s over, you’ll be desperate to find out who’s won. You can head back to ExitPol.ly to see what the crowdsourced results say or for a broader view the BBC’s election coverage will be here.
If you’re on the move, the Election 2010 iPhone app from developers Strawberry Milkshake promises to give you live election results as they come in through the night.