ChrisChristie.net is a website run by a certified mortgage planning specialist, not the governor of New Jersey.
CarlyFiorina.org doesn’t take you to the presidential hopeful, but instead says: “Carly Fiorina failed to register this domain. So I’m using it to tell you how many people she laid off at Hewlett-Packard.”
A lot of websites out there use candidates’ names. A lot of them aren’t associated with the candidates. One company is trying to make verifying the official site of a candidate easier by offering a new domain: “.VOTE”.
.VOTE aims to reduce confusion with domain names and create a recognizable Internet space where voters can find reliable information on current elected officials and candidates seeking public office.
“.VOTE allows candidates to own their name,” said Chuck Warren, managing director and partner at Monolith Registry, the registry for the .VOTE domain. “The political universe is its own unique monster. The most prized asset is your name.”
Warren said .VOTE will offer users a “seal of approval,” as people must be associated with a party or campaign to register the domain. The company will do random audits every month, and if a registered website proves to be a parody or fake account, it will be suspended and taken down.
Candidates also can’t “sit on the name forever” and must be running for office to use the domain.
“People can be confident that when they go to .VOTE, they are getting information from the candidate,” Warren said.
Presidential candidates aren’t alone in having their names used by someone else in a website domain.
In April, Atlantic County Republicans launched “MeadowlandsMazzeo.com,” a political website that criticized Assembylman Vince Mazzeo, D-Atlantic, for refusing to “stand up against special interests” pushing for a North Jersey casino.
“I would put it in the category of ‘it can’t hurt,’” said Daniel Douglas, director of the William J. Hughes Center for Public Policy at Stockton University. “People can still get web names and domain names from other sources. .VOTE is not widely known.”
Douglas said he was also concerned about someone designating himself as the “arbiter” of who’s a political candidate.
The .VOTE domain is available for political parties, platforms and states as well. Alabama and Arizona have already registered election websites using the domain. Alabama.vote, for example, provides information on voter registration and elections.
Warren said 71 percent of voters said it would be easier to remember “state.vote” than any other website listed for them. In New Jersey, the website is nj.elections.org. Across South Jersey, election websites by county range from CapeMayCountyVotes.com to Co.Cumberland.NJ.US/elections.
A .VOTE domain can be registered at www.get.vote. Warren said prices range from $60 to $79 annually.