September 24 2021 03:30 pm

Google Maps leads voters to wrong polling place in Arden-Arcade

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) – Technology has helped election officials register voters and tabulate their ballots during election cycles.

But in one case, technology has been a roadblock for people trying to vote in person.

During Election Day, voters in the Arden-Arcade area were directed to the wrong polling place.

Potentially dozens of voters who sought to cast ballots at the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District building at Howe Avenue Park were given incorrect directions online.

Those voters put in the 2201 Howe Avenue address in Google Maps only to be directed to 3097 Cottage Way, the district’s Cottage Park facilities, a mile away on the same street.

“During this big election is was very problematic and there were people very frustrated and calling us about it and we said ‘we’re really sorry it’s not us,’” explained Becky McDaniel, the superintendent of recreation for the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District.

The Sacramento County Elections office also got calls. Election officials gave out the correct address, but Google Maps displayed the wrong location.

Elections officials said it’s information technology department was unable to make a change on the Google Maps site that asks for corrections.

District officials put a sign up at the mistaken location directing voters to the correct facilities down the street.

The district noticed the glitch 10 years ago, numerous people trying to get to community meetings at the facility have been directed to the Cottage Park facility before, often on the Google Maps mobile app.

“Some of them take a taxi or Uber and they’re stuck down there so we’ve had people from the community staff had to give them a ride back here where they belong,” McDaniel said.

Google Maps actually asks users for corrections to their maps but the web interface isn’t always responsive. It reportedly gathers 20 million bits of information a day.

“It’s been ongoing, and we can’t get Google to change it,” McDaniel said.

District officials said it has tried for 10 years to correct the issue but without result.

Given this latest episode, they said they will try again.

“We’re getting back in touch with Google again and I’ve figured out another angle to possibly get this resolved,” McDaniel said.

Sacramento County elections officials said they gave verbal instructions to voters who reported they got the wrong polling place location on Google Maps and said they are confident that the affected voters got to the right location.

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