New data tracks polling station locations for 37 states – GCN

New data tracks polling station locations for 37 states

Center for Public Integrity Releases Data Set of Polling Locations Used in the 2020 General Election to Help Journalists and Researchers Analyze Access to the Ballot Box and the Potential Effects of a Series of Changes to Election Laws States.

Data extends an earlier version of the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline Last year which included polling locations and addresses for 30 states for the 2012, 2014, 2016 and 2018 general elections.

The new version of the data, available via Github, includes voting locations and addresses for the 2020 general election in 37 states. This new data set, along with data from previous elections, can be used to study Changes made by state and local election officials in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and a series of new laws overhauling access to ballots across the country. The Center for Public Integrity will continue to update this dataset with information from other states over the coming months.

Data from the previous version of Stateline and the Center for Public Integrity was collected as part of a survey project, Obstacles at the ballot box, which examined the impact of the movement and closure of polling stations in states, including Louisiana and North Carolina. The project was a finalist for the 2021 Toner Award for Excellence in National Political Reporting.

No public national dataset on polling station locations used in previous elections previously existed. Polling station locations are controlled locally, so data collation, both for 2020 and prior years, required submitting more than 1,000 requests for public records to states and counties.

“The challenge with this data has always been that in order to do anything systematic, you have to compile the data from many different sources,” said Nick Eubank, research assistant professor at the Duke Social Science Research Institute who studied the effects of the polling place. changes in political participation.

Eubank is now working with students on a project using the data to study access to polling stations on college campuses, and said having the data in one place “is just an incredibly valuable resource.”

Last year’s pandemic forced seismic changes in the way Americans voted. Journalists, researchers and voting rights advocates continue to use polling station location data to determine which voters have been affected by the closure, movement and change of polling stations.

In addition to the Center for Public Integrity and Stateline, the data has been used in reports by news organizations including The New York Times, the the Wall Street newspaper, NPR and Iowa Public Radio and Wisconsin watch. Reports resulting from the data were cited in testimony in congressional hearings and in reports from nonprofit groups that advocate for access to the vote, including the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University School of Law, the Voting rights laboratory and the Stanford-MIT Healthy Elections Project.

The nonprofit Center for New Data used polling station locations, as well as smartphone location data, to To analyse voter wait times in Georgia and the potential effects of changes there.

The Center for Public Integrity and Georgia Public Broadcasting used this data earlier this year to report on how proposed changes to electoral laws would affect communities of color.

“Being able to understand exactly where they are and how they are being moved is just as, if not more, important than just knowing the total number in a given jurisdiction,” said Kevin Morris, researcher for the Brennan Center for Justice at La New York University Law School is currently using the data to examine the effect of locating polling stations in police stations. The data “helps reveal that there are real costs voters face in getting to their polling stations.”

This is something that civil rights and voting rights advocates have long worried about. In a 2013 decision, Shelby County v. Holder, the United States Supreme Court struck down a key piece of the Voting Rights Act, eliminating the requirement that places with a history of racial discrimination in voting seek Department of Justice approval before d ” make changes to voting procedures, including voting locations.

Since then, the courts have closed thousands of polling stations. But the reasons for the changes vary widely, with some places increasing their use of regional polling centers compared to neighborhood polling stations and increasing the use of postal voting.

Every polling station closure is not necessarily bad, but it is important to consider the rationale for the closure and the effect of rapidly changing state laws that may limit access to alternatives such as postal vote, said Jesselyn McCurdy, executive vice president of the government. business for the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, a coalition of over 200 civil rights groups. In 2019, the group published a report draw attention to the declining number of in-person polling stations in jurisdictions previously covered by the Voting Rights Act’s requirement to seek federal approval for changes.

“Have they now changed the law where it is more difficult to vote by mail, and they are closing the polling stations?” ” she asked.

This item was first published on Stateline, an initiative of The Pew Charitable Trusts.

about the authors

Carrie Levine is a senior money and democracy reporter for the Center for Public Integrity.

Pratheek Rebala is a News Developer for the Data Team at the Center for Public Integrity.

Matt Vasilogambros is a writer for Stateline.


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