While Michigan, Montana, Oregon, and Minnesota may sound familiar – they are returning to the program for the second and third time, to further elevate their GIS in elections game – Vermont and Texas are new, and exciting, entrants into the program. 

“To say that they illustrate the diversity of pilot states participants is probably right,” reflects Jamie Chesser, director of programs at NSGIC and ultimately the person who has built the pilot study process from scratch. To date, two full classes of pilot states have graduated, and the reports with their learnings can be found on the Best Practices page

Pilot states and counties, who work on a set of individual goals established early on in the six-month process, now fall into three different pod identification groups based on the level at which they are working to deploy GIS in elections; exploring, implementing, or operating.

The class of 2021 also includes no fewer than six California counties, reflecting the very positive experience of one county during 2020. Shasta County, a participant in 2020, was able to progress their use of GIS in elections to such a degree that the Secretary of State of California encouraged as many counties as possible to participate in 2021.

As a result, Calaveras, Merced, Shasta, Solano, Sutter, and Tulare County of California joined the group that kicked off their pilot study journeys in March.

Chesser is pleased but knows it will be a busy year. It will also be a year that creates a lot of learnings, both for the jurisdictions involved in the program and for those who follow in their footsteps.

“The new pod identification system makes it even easier for states and counties not in the program to learn from others. By first assessing their own status, any state or county can then zero in on the learnings of other jurisdictions who tackled similar-level issues, in terms of exploring, implementing, or operating GIS in elections,” she notes. A good place to start is the Best Practices Guidance, or the latest pilot study reports.

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