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Building a GIS-based National Election Precinct Data Set October 10, 2008

Posted by Bahadir Sahin in English, Haber (News).
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Farallon Geographics, working with the National Committee for an Effective Congress (NCEC), has completed the first multi-state, spatially-enabled GIS election precinct data set that covered almost a dozen battleground states. The GIS, incorporating over 20 million voter records from data supplied by the Democratic National Committee (DNC), will be used as a tool for planning canvassing and voter outreach efforts for the 2008 Presidential campaign.

Map the Vote, a partner of the NCEC progressive political action committee, had previously explored options for creating a national precinct GIS map by acquiring voter information from local county agencies and then drawing precinct layers using standard GIS tools. But the costs and time required were prohibitive.

Farallon had successfully implemented efficient, automated geoprocessing workflows for similar projects (e.g. census blocks) at a fraction of the cost of traditional GIS techniques. Map the Vote therefore contacted Farallon to apply automated geoprocessing to build and maintain a national election precinct dataset.

Using geodatabase technologies and spatial analysis algorithms, Farallon processed over 20 million voter records to produce election precincts datasets for key states. Farallon also created a process to complete a national dataset in the future. To ensure that the process was repeatable, Farallon worked closely with Map the Vote to define the spatial processing rules used to build the precinct layer so that each precinct could be automatically defined and validated. This eliminated the need for manual editing of the GIS data. An Oracle Spatial geodatabase and a suite of GIS desktop tools were used to automate the overall data storage, processing, and geometry validation necessary to develop the national election precinct map dataset in shapefile format.

Creating voter precincts using traditional GIS methods (digitally drawing precincts by hand) takes approximately one year per state. By automating the process, Farallon was able to complete each state in one day. This allows the progressive political organizations to cost-effectively microtarget and turn out the vote in key states for the 2008 Presidential campaign.

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