Today is Election Day, and constituents across the country are turning to the internet to find out the latest information about elections near them. Social channels, in particular, are being used to cover elections – and marketers should take note that Americans are tuning into these networks to keep ahead of the latest news.

It’s clear that the internet is integral to how people find election news. At press time, Google Trends reveals that „California elections“ is the second-leading search topic, and the No. 1 Google Hot Search term is „voting locations by zip code.“ „Polling locations,“ „where do I vote“ and „voting hours“ are other top phrases.

Search engines may be critical to getting people to the ballots, but it seems social media is a vital channel for Americans looking to stay on top of the results. A Google Realtime search for „election 2010“ reveals updates averaging several new posts per second at press time. Moreover, PulseOfTheTweeters.com (the site that Brafton reported recommends Twitter thought leaders) reveals that „election day“ is a Twitter trending topic at press time.

Several major news providers have gotten on the social bandwagon to capitalize on the frenzy for election updates. CBS has devoted a YouTube channel to the election, while ABC is fueling its Twitter profile with short updates about elections across the country and sharing links to video coverage through the microblog. Additionally, the New York Times has created an online article that captures the tweet buzz surrounding specific candidates in the weeks leading up to the big day.

The value of social networks for finding election news is not lost on execs behind the social channels, either. Facebook has posted an Election Day message on its homepage that offers polling locations and shows users who has voted among their connections. Similarly, foursqaure has launched an „I Voted“ map that updates to show how many polling centers across the country have received check-ins.

This frenzy for information about the election via social media makes it clear that consumers turn to social channels to find the latest news – and they’re not following traditional news sources exclusively. Pulse of the Tweeters says one of the most popular election tweeters at press time is Chris Sacca – a business investor.

With this in mind, brands can aim to establish themselves as thought leaders by offering consumers news content and using it to seed their social sites. According to a recent study from CNN reported by Brafton, nearly one-third of consumers favor brands they affiliate with news they discover on social channels.