Sites scramble for Election Day results

News sites publishing real-time data, advice. Bush, Kerry sites also charted significant Web traffic increases on election's eve.

U.S. voters flocked to the Web on Tuesday, as news sites pulled out the stops on Election Day coverage, offering everything from the latest exit poll results to nuts-and-bolts information on where to vote.

MSNBC.com set up a voter complaint hotline and began publishing real-time data on alleged voting problems in all 50 states. Polling stations with e-voting machines drew the most calls, according to the site, with more than 18,000 complaints by mid-afternoon Tuesday.

Some Web sites, including the Drudge Report, offered early takes based on exit poll results which, by mid-afternoon, showed some encouraging numbers for Sen. John Kerry in key battleground states such as Florida and Pennsylvania.

Meanwhile, the political campaigns themselves have used their Web sites to raise millions of dollars in small grassroots contributions. They're using e-mail and Web tools to coordinate phone banks of volunteers in widely dispersed areas, all focusing on whichever states or cities look most important, based on the latest polls.

People flocked to the Web sites of both U.S. presidential candidates on Monday, according to the latest report issued by ComScore Networks.

The Internet statistics provider released a report on Tuesday that indicated that both the Kerry-Edwards 2004 and Bush-Cheney '04 Web sites received more than 300,000 hits from U.S. visitors Monday. The traffic spike, on the eve of the election, more than doubled the average daily traffic for both sites.

GeorgeWBush.com landed 317,000 visits, roughly 3 percent more than Kerry's site, which tallied 306,000 on Monday. Traffic to the Kerry site was 128 percent higher than normal, while the Bush site was up by 103 percent.

ComScore, based in Reston, Va., said workplace users accounted for more than half of all traffic to each campaign site. While 160,000 work-based Web surfers visited Kerry's site yesterday, 189,000 sought out Bush's.

The two campaign sites have traded leads in the traffic count over the last several months. While Kerry's had the lead in ComScore's July and August ratings, and has garnered more traffic over the last three weeks, GeorgeWBush.com prevailed in September.

In a separate study, researchers at AlertSite found that Kerry's site has been running more efficiently than Bush's since the end of August. AlertSite said that since Aug. 28, the Kerry site has had an average response time--the period it takes for a page to load into a Web browser--of less than one second, while GeorgeWBush.com needed an average of 5.5 seconds to respond.

AlertSite also determined that the official site of the Democratic National Committee outperformed its Republican counterpart. Since Aug. 28, the DNC site has had an average response time of roughly two seconds, while GOP.com has needed an average of almost 6 seconds to download. Third-party candidate Ralph Nader's site had an average response time of just less than 3 seconds during the same period.

The Boca Raton, Fla., research firm also tracked major outages at the sites since the end of August. Kerry's site did not experience any, while GeorgeWBush.com went down for just more than an hour on Sept. 2 and had a six-hour blackout on Sept. 20. GOP.com also recorded an hour-long outage Sept. 20. Ken Godskind, vice president of marketing at AlertSite, said the dual issues' coincidence indicates that they might have been the result of a coordinated attack by hackers.

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