Mapping voters for political campaigns

Political campaigns, especially on the local level, rely on personal outreach to voters. This can enhance a candidate’s reputation with a voter, give the voter a chance to get answers to questions otherwise left unanswered and remind the voter to participate in an upcoming election. One could hope that, at its best, such personal contact would also result in the candidate learning something of a voter’s hopes, problems and needs, better informing the candidate’s work for the people if elected.

Due to the ongoing pandemic, 2020 was not an ideal election season for such a personal connection with voters. The ground game continued, though it required masks and involved more quiet deposition of printed campaign materials than door knocking.

To aid in such an effort, I produced a map book that gave a candidate and campaign volunteers printed access to current address and voter data. Publicly provided GIS data from local agencies provided the basics: roads, parcels and addresses. I added structure data published by Microsoft to make visible the position of the residence within each parcel, important to help find the home on large rural parcels and multiple homes on parcels with ADUs.

I joined the state’s latest published voter registration data to the address data to highlight those addresses with registered voters. This could be used in an area full of part-time residents to focus efforts on registered voters. However, it could just as easily be used to encourage others to register in time for the election.

The printed product met the immediate need in a short period of time, but in the future I rather present such data using a mobile app such as Esri Field Maps. This would eliminate issues of access to a tabloid printer, loss of detail during reproduction and the desire for different scales to capture adequate detail in both urban (large scale required to include closely packed homes and condos) and rural (only a small scale needed) areas. Such an app could also help a campaign track its coverage of each residence or voter.

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