.Vote gains traction with states and presidential hopefuls.
This is the first in a series of articles in collaboration with ICANNWiki, the wiki for the domain name industry. Each article, written by Editor and Community Manager Dustin Phillips, will provide an in-depth profile of a top level domain name.
The new .vote gTLD is a joint venture between Afilias and two investors based in Utah, creating Monolith Registry. Its mission is to create a segment of the internet that provides reliable political and voter information. This venture includes .voto, which is the Spanish/Italian/Portuguese word for vote.
According to ntldstats.com, there are currently 872 registered .vote domains, 167 of which were registered by Monolith. Many of these registrations are done on behalf of future registrants during the process of transferring ownership. The others are registered to prevent cybersquatting.
Preventing cybersquatting in the political sphere could benefit candidates and voters alike. Presidential hopefuls are notorious for failing to register relevant domains. Tedcruz.com hosts a message supporting Obama and immigration reform. Carlyfiorina.org mocks her for failing to register the domain and contains 30,000 sad emoticons, representing the number of people she laid off as CEO of Hewlett-Packard. On the other hand, voters are given the burdensome task of discerning which domain hosts a candidate’s official site.
.vote seeks to create a political safe space, by reserving FirstnameLastname.vote for every prominent presidential prospect. They do a thorough job, but a few imposters still co-opt different variations of candidate’s names for their own agendas. For example, Hillary.vote and jeb.vote both display messages about fixing healthcare.
Considering the abundance of possible domain name variations, the presence of squatters is neither surprising, nor detrimental to .vote’s mission. Afilias/Monolith rely on regular audits and community reporting to combat the misuse of their TLD. While researching .vote, I encountered and reported several cases of abuse. The responses were reasonably quick and effective.
In the current primary cycle, several candidates are using .vote domains. They include Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, and Carly Fiorina. For Cruz and Fiorina, it provided an opportunity to compensate for neglecting their .com/.org domains.
.vote also has application beyond the campaign trail. To date, eight states have registered .vote/.voto domains for the home of their Secretary of State’s voter information site. These include:
- Colorado.vote (no live site)
With the exception of Nevada, Massachusetts and Georgia, the remainder of the 50 states are in the process of transferring ownership and have active redirects (albeit some 404s). It is worth noting that Georgia.vote is on ICANN’s list of reserved names due to the namesake it shares with the Republic of Georgia.
Recently, Afilias has verified that Paraguay is in the process of becoming the first country to register a .vote/.voto domain. In the past few days, the government of Paraguay confirmed that they wanted these domains, initiating the process of transferring ownership. This requires the name to be released from ICANN’s list of reserved names.
So far, .vote has seen limited use in smaller elections, municipalities and issue-oriented campaigns, but it will be interesting to see how that changes as the TLD develops.
Registry website: get.vote