As part of its final-year deliverables, NSGIC’s Geo-Enabled Elections project today released the 2022 State Election Director Report, documenting progress in the use of GIS technology in elections across the United States since the project’s inception in 2017.
In the report, the authors note that a remarkable 86% of U.S. states and territories have participated in the Geo-Enabled Elections project over the course of the project.
Election directors from 28 states and territories were interviewed or surveyed for the report, providing details on advances in the integration of GIS in elections. Examples include a greater use of audits to verify voter lists, and a significant increase in real-time updates of voter addresses.
In other areas, change is happening more slowly. Most state election directors hope to have a voter registration system (VRS) that supports GIS not by 2024, but by 2027. Currently, 10 out of 28, or 39% of election directors stated that they have a VRS that can use geospatial data, although some are not using that functionality yet.
Key opportunities to leverage GIS technology in elections remain. While regular audits have increased significantly, not all are spatial audits, and not all use complete, external address information. In fact, several states continue to do spatial data audits irregularly, or lack some of the spatial data needed to conduct a complete audit.
Increasing the integration of GIS in elections can save time, reduce the risk of errors, and contribute to transparency in elections. It also has financial benefits. As one election director notes in the report:
“The value likely is monetary, which translates to FTE(s) in elections that have GIS knowledge and software skills.”
For states that need to pick up the pace, NSGIC project manager Jamie Chesser says collaboration between election directors and geographic information officers is key.
“This is what we have seen in all states that have made significant progress, and NSGIC has worked to encourage deepening relationships between those two groups of professionals. This is perhaps the most significant accomplishment of the project.”
NSGIC is grateful for the time and candid input of the 28 U.S. election directors who participated in the interviews and surveys that made this nationwide report possible.