With six months remaining for the Geo-Enabled Elections project, key stakeholders are looking ahead to what’s next while also recognizing accomplishments to date.
Currently, the project team is finalizing the 2022 State Election Director Report, documenting progress in the use of GIS technology in elections across the country since the project’s inception in 2017. Targeted for release in the fall, the report will review advances in voter address management and auditing, states’ access to technology and systems capable of using GIS location information, collaboration with state GIOs, and more.
In the meantime, the Geo-Enabled Elections Phase Two/Year Two report is available for download. It describes how the national conversation changed in recent years, with a much greater understanding of the concept of geo-enabled elections in evidence. Stakeholders in counties, states, agencies, the private sector, and academia are pulling together to elevate the use of GIS in elections nationwide.
NSGIC created and facilitated that process, supporting state and county election administrators by offering case studies, hosting webinars, and providing a webpage with tools and training for any election office wishing to further elevate their use of GIS in elections. Says Jamie Chesser, project lead:
“NSGIC has worked with GIS and election leaders around the country to create a blueprint for how to enhance election accuracy, efficiency, and transparency with GIS. With that blueprint in hand, we know state and local jurisdictions have access to the tools and know-how to take it from here, in 2023 and beyond.”
This might include seeking additional funding to upgrade voter registration systems, so that those systems can accurately place voters in the right voting districts, or collaborating with lawmakers to pass legislation to codify the use of GIS in elections in state statute.
The benefits are clear to many election leaders who have recently completed their redistricting work. Processes that might previously have taken weeks to complete could be done in just minutes thanks to GIS data. Voters were automatically sorted into the correct new voting districts and the results displayed in a visual format, making any erroneous locations easy to spot.
As for the next steps to take, for any states or counties that are unsure, Chesser offers straight-forward advice:
“Speak to your state GIO. They can help assess the current level of GIS integration in elections in a jurisdiction, and in collaboration with election leaders, determine what the right next steps are to continue to safeguard the accuracy, efficiency, and transparency of election processes.”