NSGIC Launches "Geo-Enabled Elections" Project to Enhance Elections Management with Geospatial Data & Technology 

By Molly Schar  |  November 2, 2017

Today, the National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) announced a two-year project dubbed “Geo-Enbled Elections” Project to boost state-led efforts to standardize the application of geographic information systems (GIS) to support elections management and engagement between office holders and their constituents. These essential upgrades will benefit voters by increasing political boundary precision—so they know with certainty who represents them and what will be on their ballots each election.

The Geo-Enabled Elections Project will compile and promote best practices for the use of GIS to develop and sustain a map-based digital database to support state election offices that contains:

  • State, municipal, and local service district boundaries
  • Voting precinct boundaries, precinct assignments, and polling places
  • Constituent service areas to connect residents to elected officials, government services, public notices, and other location specific information

“The information systems behind our elections process can benefit greatly from integrating precise, authoritative geographic data. This has never been more important, as it will enhance efficiency and integrity while laying the groundwork to better connect constituents with their representatives and available government services” said NSGIC Executive Director Molly Schar. “In partnership with the bipartisan Democracy Fund Voice, we will be working to dramatically enhance the quality, efficiency, and collective trust in election systems in states across the country.”

For this project, NSGIC, the association for state government geographic information systems (GIS) enterprise coordinators and state GIS councils, will engage diverse stakeholders in elections management and GIS, from both the state and local levels, to formulate and coalesce best practices, including:

  • Engagement of and support to local government in the development, validation and submission of precincts as a GIS map layer
  • Creation of data content guidelines for GIS precincts
  • Quality control processes for review and acceptance of GIS precinct changes, to ensure logical consistency, including coincidence with state political districts
  • Technical methodology for automated (i.e. geocoding) and manual determination and review of the geographic location assigned to voter residences
  • Technical considerations to the decennial redistricting process that facilitate the formation of optimally-sized election precincts

“Improvements to state government processes can have a significant impact for citizens. Democracy Fund Voice is proud to support the efforts of the expert team at NSGIC. We believe their work to facilitate the adoption of geographic information systems will lead to more accurate and accessible electoral databases, improve the quality of election administration, and enhance voter engagement across the United States,” said Stacey Scholl, Senior Program Associate with Democracy Fund Voice, “We hope the results of their work will be noticeable as early as the 2018 elections.”

The Geo-Enabled Elections Project will kick-off later this month with the establishment of a working group of state-level geographic information officers and GIS managers to provide subject matter expertise throughout the project duration. Over the course of the two-year project, NSGIC will collaborate with state election officials and other stakeholders to develop best practices, implementation guidance and tools, host two Geo-Enabled Elections Summit events, and conduct state pilots to demonstrate proof of concept.

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The National States Geographic Information Council (NSGIC) strives to be the premier state-led forum for developing, exchanging, and endorsing geospatial technology and policy best practices. We share solutions that offer benefits across the geospatial ecosystem. NSGIC facilitates critical connections between people and organizations across multiple sectors – and the data and systems they use – resulting in greater returns from the efficient use of geospatial technology. We also pursue geospatial advocacy initiatives that coordinate activities, knowledge, and policies of collaborative outreach to support informed decision-making.

Democracy Fund Voice is a nonpartisan organization dedicated to helping America build a stronger, healthier democracy. We invest in ideas and organizations that encourage civic engagement, improve the quality of election administration, foster transparency, and promote effective governance in Washington, D.C. and our state capitals. To learn more about our work, please visit http://democracyfundvoice.org/