Monday, February 04, 2019

Local officials, especially in rural areas, slow to integrate mapping technology into voter registration systems

"Most states aren’t even halfway along integrating geospatial data into elections, despite expecting voter registration systems to support such information within five years, according to a new survey of election directors," Dave Nyczepir reports for Route Fifty. That's important because geographic information systems can pinpoint voters' locations to ensure they're in the right precinct and receive the right absentee or mail-in ballots. Less effective voter outreach could result in fewer voters getting to have their say in elections.

Though the process is a statewide, local election officials bear the heaviest burden in making the necessary changes. Officials in rural areas are having the hardest time integrating GIS, since they don't have as much access to specialists who can help them troubleshoot. In a recent report from the National States Geographic Information Council, "five out of six election directors reported having access to such resources. GIS resources were fewer in rural areas," Nyczepir reports.

Overall, when local and state election officials were asked how much progress they were making toward GIS integration on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being full integration), the average response was 4, Nyczepir reports.

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