Every election cycle, millions of eligible voters fail to vote, leading campaign managers, academics, and journalists to ponder what can be done to improve turnout. But for as many as 1.9 million Americans, there's a much simpler reason: They didn't know where to vote.
The number of polling places in your county, and their locations, can fluctuate wildly depending on redistricting, state election budgets, and a variety of other factors. While your local deli might retain the same storefront for decades, your ballot box could be in a new location every couple of years. We expect 560,000 votes to be lost in 2012 (research) solely due to changes in polling location following Census redistricting.
What We've Done About It
Now, there are many reasons people don't fulfill their democratic duties by casting votes, but helping people find where they need to go seemed like a pretty solvable problem. Working together with state election officials, civic nonprofits, and leading technology companies, we've collected this important polling place information -- information that our elections depend on -- and consolidated it into a free, standardized dataset. This data will help you and your visitors find the address of your voting place, complete with directions and a map.
Previously, this information could be confusing to obtain at the local level, and incredibly expensive to license en masse at the national level. Now, thanks to the Voting Information Project and our fantastic partners, it couldn't be easier. The information is standardized and extensively sourced and documented. We'll be keeping it up to date, too.
If you simply want to find out where to vote and help others do the same, check out VIP's embeddable Polling Place Locator (also below), which you can easily add to your website. Google also provides an Election Center API, which you can use to build your own widgets, apps, and other tools. If you'd like to download the raw data and stay informed on updates to it, click here.
Anthea Watson is Director of the Voting Information Project, and hopes you build incredible things with this data.
The primary source for this election information is listed in the dataset; please check with your local election official for the latest information. This data set contains information from public records and made available only for purposes authorized by law. It is not for sale or resale.