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NBC News has set up an 'I can't vote!' helpline using contact centre technology from Intervoice. The Voter Alert Line application will allow US voters to "notify local polling officials about voting problems or irregularities at their local polling location" and forms part of NBC News' political coverage of today's presidential election.

People unable to vote successfully for whatever reason will be able to get the weight off their chests by calling a free automated system, delivered by voice and data company Intervoice's Omvia voice automation platform, and leave a message (in either English or Spanish) about their experience. These rants (no longer than 60 seconds) will be captured as a voice file and delivered to news network NBC News along with statistics about the origin and volume of the calls via a web portal developed by Contact Solutions.

At the end of a call, frustrated would-be voters will be offered the option to transfer to the local election offices for information about their local polling location. A team of NBC analysts will examine the calling patterns and will review the content of individual calls for insight into local, regional or nationwide voting problems. MSNBC.com will show data collected through the Voter Alert Line, displaying real-time hot spots with a high volume of calls reporting voting problems on its Making Your Vote Count site.

The Voter Alert Line is funded by a range of non-partisan organisations and academic institutions, including the Common Cause Education Fund, the University of Pennsylvania Fels' School of Government, the Reform Institute and the Hispanic Voter Project at Johns Hopkins University.

Following on from the controversies of the 2000 election and the disputed vote-count in Florida, lawyers are poised to unleash writs if there any disputes this time around. Technology companies like Intervoice are also getting involved. As well as the NBC lines, states will doubtless be running voter helplines too, our US correspondents inform us. While these helplines might put a disgruntled would-be voter in touch with an election official more directly they don't have anything like the ranting potential of NBC's Voter Alert Line, which serves a useful purpose in providing an outlet to people to let off steam. ®

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