Google has assembled a wealth of information about the upcoming US general election and will display links to it on its Google Earth mapping application.
After Google turns on the links Sunday night, Google Earth users will see stars on the US map wherever there is a race in the 7 November election. A number of congressional seats and state governorships are up for grabs.
Clicking on a star opens up a bubble with information about races in that area and links to a variety of information resources, like the sites for the US Federal Election Commission and the Center for Responsive Politics's OpenSecrets.org, which gathers information about campaign contributions. Below each candidate are links that trigger Google web, image and news searches about them.
"People can easily learn a whole lot about the candidates in their particular area just by browsing this layer on Google Earth," said John Hanke, director of Google Earth and Maps.
This is the first time Google has created an overlay of election-related links on Google Earth, and the company hasn't decided whether it will do this for every major election in the future, Hanke said.
Google Earth, one of the company's most popular products, is a free, downloadable application that taps into a massive database of satellite images and related information. Its video game-like interface lets users "fly" around the globe, zooming in and out of cities.