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  • Definition of Hashtags
  • Basic Hashtags
  • Advanced Hashtags



A hashtag is any word in twitter which is immediately preceded by the '#' symbol (a.k.a the hash).  By using a hashtag, you're signalling that you want people to be able to find your tweet and associate it with other tweets that contain the same hashtag.


In the case of VoteReport - we should use the hashtag for votereport (#votereport) and then the name/value pairing for infromation gathering.  Similar to what you see on URLs, name/value pairs are used to set conditions on where you are and what is happening.


To see the actual implementation of the hashtags, look at the source code:



The implementation of the location specifier tags (#zip, L:) is listed here:



Basic Hashtags



You must at least include this tag in your tweet for us to be able to use your information.  There are a number of additional pieces of information you can add from there


#EP{two-letter state code} - e.g. #EPNY for New York, #EPOH for Ohio

This is for individuals with serious legal issues only.  Are you or someone you know being prevented from voting?  Tweet the appropriate code and a brief message about your problem, and we'll tweet back with next steps.  We have a whole coalition of voting experts supporting us.


Tags for additional issues

We're trying to keep things simple, so we've created 3 basic tags to alert us to issues that might occur.

  • #machine - use this tag to signal a problem with a voting machine
  • #registration - use this tag to signal problems with the registration process, people being turned away for paperwok reasons
  • #wait:time - use this tag to signal a long wait.  Add a colon and the wait time in minutes - e.g. #wait:30 for half an hour, #wait:120 for two hours.


Advanced Hashtags

We're trying to keep the hashtags simple for our tweeters, but here are some more advanced hashtags that have been suggested.


#challenges -- there are widespread challenges occurring at the location.

#hava -- accessibility issues (vision, etc.).  [HAVA is the acronym is for Help Americans Vote Act]

#ballots -- out (or running out) of paper ballots

#good/#bad -- the overall experience


Our hope is that our more committed and engaged volunteers will be able to use these to provide richer and more specific data.



  • How do we determine that a report is not fraudulent?  Twitter ensures that tweets are accepted by you because of an explicit choice you make
    • (e.g. I accept that you are following me if I am open, but I can block you from recieving my tweets or
    • I can make you explicitly request to follow me via protected tweets
  • My suggestions was a process that requires the person to "sign on" initially - where they do a sequence like
    • They send -> f votereport
    • We then send -> "Thanks for joining votereport.  Please respond with where youre voting (zip:XXXXX or PL:FL-19)
    • They send -> @votereport zip:10023
    • We send -> Thanks - youre polling location is: BLAH BLAH, Florida

Comments (3)

Sanford said

at 3:59 pm on Oct 21, 2008

Couple of questions here:

1. The use of hashtags - can we assume that since someone is already including #votereport on the tweet/message - that they already know that the other components are for descriptors? Having all of those hashes will cause other issues, no?
2. No one has used ! (bang) or anything else - and the colon is already one that has us showing a name/value pair. Is it the most appropriate since on older phones (e.g. T9) isn't this a hassle? What is the most effective non-character we can use (other than hash - IF we need it).
3. On the voterstory site - we have six complaints:
a. Absentee Voting
b. Disability problems
c. Long lines
d. Provisional ballot problems
e. Registration problems

Should we be addressing each of these?
4. There must be some form of database for the polling places somewhere (I think google has it). Is this database accessible?

Chris Kennedy said

at 6:03 pm on Oct 21, 2008

Quick note. Lots of discussion on the list serve about handling locations. http://microformats.org/wiki/twitter-nanoformatsformore has a quick spec for "L:" per twittervision's usage.

JonPincus said

at 9:10 pm on Oct 25, 2008

What about a hashtag #volunteer for people to sign up ahead of time? so for example

#votereport #volunteer 98005 (and optionally something more describing how they'll help)

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