Geospatial technology has been an invaluable application used in diverse sectors of the world economy such as banking and finance, construction, transportation, natural resources management, weather forecast, social networking, monitoring and evaluation, research, elections, tourism, and several others. Talking about its influence on electoral operations, it can play a crucial role in election management, given its extensive characteristics.
In this blog, we have thrown light on how geospatial technologies influences the elections held across the globe. However, we have chosen to talk about geospatial technology in brief. Stay glued.
About geospatial technology
Geospatial technologies or GST is a combination of three main systems – Remote Sensing (RS), Global Positioning and Navigation System (GPNS), and Geographic Information System (GIS). GST can detect the optimal location of polling stations, ensure proper demarcation of catchment regions, and rationalized route planning to conduct polls. With GST, we can have an enhanced chance of viewing the election results in real-time.
Geographic Information Systems, or GIS, is a component of geospatial technology that is computer-based information used to handle geographical data in digital form to capture, save, manipulate, analyze, and display a different set of geo-referenced or spatial data. It is a multi-component computer-based information system consisting of software, hardware, system-ware and peopleware for collection, storage, collation, analysis, and display of spatially relevant information.
Geographic information system comprises of spatial/geo databases of digital maps that save information on several sectors and their locations. It is among the highly efficient tools t use for developing a decision support system, regardless of its type.
Influence on elections
We, from the comfort of our home or offices, have eyes glued to the mobile and TV screens waiting for the election results. We watch the color of districts change on the electoral map as the political power balance shifts during the polls. The visual representation of the electoral map is proof of the power a country’s citizen hold in determining its future.
But, have you ever thought what makes the color of the district locations change or how the detailed maps are prepared? Well, there’s a whole process behind organizing the electoral system – the sophisticated GIS tools and techniques. They are making a shift in the political campaigns and elections in crucial ways unknown to us. Transparent and accurate GIS election data can be of great advantage for government agencies, candidates, and the whole voting population.
Let’s discuss some of the areas of the election system that are positively affected with the involvement of geospatial technology.
Adding visibility to redistricting
Every term of election, district boundaries are set by the states that determine the races of people living in each voting precinct that can participate. The voting authorities are meant to comply with a series of regulations and the demographic shifts when making these adjustments.
With GIS, the redistricting process becomes more straightforward as it offers a clearer view of all the possible variations in the digital map, ensuring al the users keep up with the set of requirements. By mapping programs, common errors like failing to meet rules that demand contiguity and compactness can be prevented. Call to contiguity means you can travel from one point to another within a district without crossing another district. Political parties and the voter advocacy groups can draft several proposed plans and represent the effects of different approaches, like how shifting a border might become a barrier in a community of interest.
Streamlining election management
Elections are a complicated process that demands full-proof planning and extensive infrastructure. A group of people need to come together to run the polls efficiently. From the officers in the election boards to the on-site poll workers, every one must work as a team. The officials handle a comprehensive set of factors, like securing voting systems, inspecting polling places, registering provisional ballots or absentee, and interacting with the public.
To meet these logistical demands, some areas use election mapping software. The GIS tools offer the officials a map-based model to track operations and perform critical administrative tasks, like:
- Monitoring events at each poll centre in real-time
- Shrewdly setting precinct borders
- Verifying the districts where voters live to make sure they vote in the correct elections
- Determining and addressing problems that could restrict voters from reaching their respective polling places
Encouraging voter participation
Through GIS, non-profit organizations and governments can attract more voters to the polls. Spatial data contributes to enhancing the turnout in several significant ways, such as:
- Locating polling centres in easily reachable sites to decrease travelling long distances for voters
- Sharing waiting times for voting
- Enabling voters to know about the most easily accessible polling centres or early voting spots
- Releasing the election results and relevant data that helps to keep the public and local media engaged and informed
Targeting campaigns narrowly
Political observers and operatives show interest in learning more about the factors that support specific candidates and the ballot measures to victory, and the rest go smoothly through the rejection. The spatial analysis offers a helpful context for learning about the electoral outcomes and optimizing the efforts for connecting to the voters. The political campaigns that use GIS ave higher chances of discovering a lot about the parameters of motivating the mass and adding an edge over their competition.
The political GIS data enables operatives in setting priorities and mobilizing outreach through the revelation of crucial data and trends among a voting population. With spatial information, officials can determine the most useful locations for hosting events or promoting candidates through advertising. By chalking out demographic information with the help of campaign mapping software, agencies can strategically allocate volunteers and workers, finalizing the most suitable ways to connect with potential supporters.
Geospatial technology in elections is an efficient and useful tool for MPs (Member of Parliament) to organize their constituency poll and translate the voters list using religion, caste, liking, and dislikings, finding out their chances of winning. All the MLAs under the constituency of MPs can be made liable by linking a large amount of data up to polling booths, manning staff, etc.
The GIS software used in the process generates thematic analysis and reports of electorates, invalid votes, votes polled, female/ale votes, reserved seats, no. of candidates, no. of women candidates, sensitive polling stations, average votes polling station wise, party position (State-wise & country-wise), leader tour campaigns, seats retained/won/wrested, seats won with votes’ range, seats lost with votes’ range, invalid votes analysis, effects of alliances, VIP candidates’ position, and candidates for seats with photographs.