Point of Beginning

Alameda County Registrar of Voters Improves Election Processes with ESRI's GIS

November 26, 2008

Redlands, California-The Registrar of Voters (ROV) of Alameda County, California, used ESRI's geographic information system (GIS) software to simplify precinct analysis and polling station siting processes during the 2008 election. The ROV's GIS-streamlined processes saved the department time, money, and labor hours and improved customer service. The public was able to visit a GIS-enabled Web site to see election results at the precinct level in real time.

"Making the switch to GIS saved us time," said Tim Dupuis, chief technology officer (CTO), Alameda County. "In past elections, precinct consolidation took six election technicians up to three weeks to complete. 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 ROV to create an easy-to-use ArcIMS application for election technicians. As a result, each process done in preparation for an election is completed more efficiently. Rather than looking at a list of buildings available to serve as polling stations, election technicians accessed GIS to see buildings on a precinct basemap 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.

Election Web sites usually show results at the state level. Alameda's old 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. This time, ArcIMS applications helped the election technicians easily maintain the ROV's GIS Web site. Moreover, the Web site gave 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.

ROV staff used the GIS to quickly find answers to people's questions 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," said Dupuis.

Precinct GIS maps are published on CDs and sold via the Web site or at the ROV office. Other agencies and media organizations that need precinct maps are able to obtain them immediately. This effort has helped the ROV streamline its overall business process to address its goals more efficiently.