By Christian Carlson
The presidential election is happening tomorrow and government workers are preparing for what is expected to be one of the biggest voter turnouts in history. To support large numbers of voters and increased scrutiny of voting operations, governments are turning to technology more than ever before. Advances in mobile, web, cloud infrastructure and mobility have combined to deliver new capabilities, new deployment patterns and, indirectly, the increased expectations today’s citizens have for government resources. When it comes to this year’s election, increased reliance on technology is evident in both social media outreach and applications designed to provide election-day voter support.
Location for Election Support and Transparency
The use of location as a fundamental element of elections support and transparency has been top of mind for me since the 2016 election season kicked into high gear – which now seems like forever ago. Fortunately, there is good news for governments taking advantage of GIS as they hustle to prepare for November 8.
The ArcGIS platform ships with baseline functionality that provides initial operating capabilities (IOCs) for GIS across government departments. These IOCs are exposed as collections of domain specific apps that provide government users with the functionality and workflows they need to support their work. Governments of all sizes and jurisdictions are embracing this approach to quickly and sustainably deploy the solutions their constituents expect.
During this election, I’ve witnessed a flurry of government GIS activity preparing for voter support and election-day operations. For example, GIS apps supporting everything from early voter registration in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina to comprehensive elections support in Wadena County, MN have been launched.
Election Operations Support is Core
It is amazing to think of the difference in GIS support for the 2016 Presidential race compared to what we saw just four years ago. This trend will continue because the apps being provided are an example of standard, predictable GIS solutions that are common to all state and local governments. These solutions are now considered part and parcel of the core GIS systems that are designed and implemented for proactive and immediate use. Having a GIS means you have a solution for supporting your regular elections operations; it’s standard.
ArcGIS ships with a collection of configurable election apps that support both citizens and government officials. The public facing apps allow voters to:
- Locate Voting Centers
- Find a Polling Place
- Report Polling Place Wait Times
- Find their Elected Representatives
- View Election Night Results
Elections administration and redistricting officials can take advantage of these apps as well as the Historical Voting Results Maps, Administrative Area Inventory app and several comprehensive redistricting tools to effectively manage the broader elections process.
All ArcGIS solutions are fully documented, supported through standard Esri technical support, and upgraded at each platform release. Developers can access all application code via GitHub and contribute to app enhancement through a robust user community and feedback loop. It’s a sustainable solution that supports one of the most fundamental aspects of our government community: the right to vote.