GIS software enables voters to see election results in real time
Thanks to geographic information system (GIS) software provided by Redlands, Calif.-based ESRI, voters in California’s Alameda County this past November were able to visit a GIS-enabled Web site to see election results at the precinct level in real time.
The registrar used ESRI’s software to simplify precinct analysis and polling station siting processes during the election. The registrar’s GIS-streamlined processes saved the department time, money and labor hours and improved customer service, according to ESRI and Alameda County.
“In past elections, precinct consolidation took six election technicians up to three weeks to complete,” said Tim Dupuis, chief technology officer for Alameda County. “With our new GIS, these tasks took three technicians from one to three days to complete.”
Time savings from the new process allowed technicians to focus on better preparing and organizing equipment and supplies for polling stations.
Weston Solutions, an ESRI business partner, worked with the county to create an easy-to-use ArcIMS application for election technicians. Rather than looking at a list of buildings available to serve as polling stations, election technicians accessed GIS to see buildings on a precinct base map and determine how many voters each station could serve. They also used GIS to assign more than 4,000 volunteers to polling stations on Election Day.
Web site provided precinct-level results
Election Web sites usually show results at the state level. Alameda’s previous Web site offered an election-results mapping function, but it was difficult and time-consuming for technicians to prepare the Web site for an election, according to ESRI.
This time, ArcIMS applications helped the election technicians easily maintain the registrar’s GIS Web site. The Web site provided results of all current elections at a precinct level. It also served as an important resource to local news and political organizations.
When ballot results came in from the polling stations, the GIS automatically updated the map so the public could see the results for federal, state and local elections at the county and precinct levels.
Alameda County staff used the GIS to quickly find answers to questions from the public about ballots or polling-station locations.
“One citizen came to the offices thinking he had received the wrong ballot in the mail. In less than five minutes, we showed him on a map that parts of his street were in different precincts, and assured him that indeed he had received the correct ballot,” Dupuis said.
Precinct GIS maps are published on CDs and sold via the Web site or at the registrar’s office. Other agencies and media organizations that need precinct maps are able to obtain them immediately.