“GIS is the best tool for election data management,” says Wesley Wilcox, Supervisor of Elections in Marion County, Florida, after a nearly two-decade-long effort to quality control and operationalize voter registration and election data. “A picture is worth a thousand words,” he adds, noting the ability to visualize data to help solve problems – not least the challenge of finding new possible polling locations when locations used in the past became unavailable recently.
In the newly released case study, Wilcox describes how the department cross-checks voter registration system data with GIS system data to help uncover discrepancies. Once issues are highlighted, each of those must be researched and corrected. When the work started, thousands of discrepancies would be discovered, with today’s data being much more accurate.
So what is the link to the upcoming redistricting? Wilcox’s advice for any county or state that is not yet using GIS is to start now on cleansing their data, using their voter registration system data and separate GIS data for each voter to ensure the two are “in sync.” This can be a long and arduous task, but it constitutes the best chance of success in the ultimate redistricting work, in his experience.
In the case study, Wilcox shares the step-by-step process for auditing and correcting records. He also addresses the importance of getting the help of experts, and the opportunity for improvements, via automation, in the future. Read more, and read the full case study here.