NSGIC’s Geo-Enabled Election project helps place right voter in THE right voting district
The Geo-Enabled Elections project was created in 2017 to strengthen the accuracy and reliability of America’s electoral system and to increase voters’ confidence that their voices are being heard in each election.
The project’s goal is to assist states and other election authorities in implementing GIS technology in elections in order to ensure that voters are placed in the right voting district, receive the right ballot, and vote in the right electoral contests. Increasingly, errors in voter placement have undermined the reliability of election results, and may have hurt voter confidence.
GIS technology aids in the process of ensuring that each voter is placed in the correct and exact location, and therefore is placed into the right voting district. Instead of relying on cumbersome voter lists and verbal definitions of voting districts, GIS technology allows election officials to view voters as pinpoints on a map, and voting district boundaries as geometrical shapes that surround those pinpoints. The verification that voters have, in fact, been placed into the right voting district becomes much easier, as does quality control – both as part of a periodic review, and after major changes, such as the modification of voting district boundaries.
Many states already use GIS technology for other matters, such as emergency response systems, land use, or utility management, and often have a geographic information officer (GIO) within state government. Part of the Geo-Enabled Elections project’s mission is to promote a stronger dialogue between GIOs and election directors in state and local government.
In October 2019, the project released its Best Practices for Raising Election Accuracy and Efficiency with GIS, concrete guidance for states and other election authorities. Prior to the Geo-Enabled Elections project, there had been no organized effort to gather the experiences of states that had implemented GIS in elections in order to develop and promote best practices.
During 2020 and 2021 the Geo-Enabled Elections project, now in its second phase, will continue to raise awareness and support states in integrating GIS in elections. Two new areas will be given particular focus: training and advocacy.
The project will create an online training program for election officers and administrators, designed to develop the soft and technical skills highlighted in the Best Practices for Raising Election Accuracy and Efficiency with GIS. In advocacy, NSGIC will work with state GIS officers, election directors, academia, nonprofits, and legislators to build advocacy tools to support the pursuit of funding, resourcing, and advancement of geo-enabled elections. This will include creating model language and guidance to help shape state statute to allow and encourage the adoption of GIS in elections.
In addition, the project will again partner with pilot states to expand adoption and learnings in 2020 and 2021; any state interested in participating may contact the project here.
Steering group, circle of advisors and project manager
A steering group of state GIS leaders helps guide the project:
Bert Granberg, Co-Chair – Director of Analytics, Modeling, and Data Services, Wasatch Front Regional Council
Neil MacGaffey, Co-Chair – Director of Mass GIS, Executive Office of Technology and Security Services
Mary Fulton, Chief, Geospatial Technology Operations, Commonwealth of PA
Tim Johnson, Director, Center for Geographic Information and Analysis, North Carolina Department of Information Technology
Ken Nelson, GIS Section Manager at Kansas Geological Survey, State of Kansas Data Access & Support Center (DASC), University of Kansas
Dan Ross, Chief Geographic Information Officer, State of Minnesota
A circle of advisors provide the project with specialized expertise from their respective fields related to elections:
Gary Bilotta, IT Program Manager, Maricopa County Recorder’s Office
Kimball Brace, Election Data Services, Inc.
Bellingam Chepuri, Advanced Data Analyst, North Carolina Board of Elections
Veronica Degraffenreid, Special Advisor for Elections Modernization, Pennsylvania Department of State
John Dziurlaj, Elections Consultant, Hilton Roscoe LLC
Greg Grube, GIS Elections Specialist, Wisconsin Elections Commission
Royce Jones, GDSI
Tyler Kleykamp, Director, State Chief Data Officers Network, Fellow at the Beeck Center – Georgetown University
Michael McDonald, Associate Professor Department of Political Science, University of Florida
Jennifer Morrell, Consultant
Tammy Patrick, Democracy Fund
Franklin Smith, Technical Director, Voting Information Project
Paul Stenbjorn, Election Information Services
Grace Wachlarowicz, Assistant City Clerk (Director Elections & Voter Services), City of Minneapolis City Clerk Department
Sarah Whitt, Systems and Data Specialist, Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC)
Jamie Chesser, Geospatial Programs Manager, NSGIC, firstname.lastname@example.org
NSGIC (pronounced NISS-gyck), or the National States Geographic Information Council, is a state-led organization for developing, exchanging, and endorsing geospatial technology and policy best practices. Its Geo-Enabled Elections project focuses specifically on the use of geospatial information in elections, and is partly funded by the bipartisan Democracy Fund Voice. Read more about NSGIC here.