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Colorado’s Accountability in Colorado Elections (ACE) map wins
plaudits ahead of award decision
Colorado’s ACE program are winning plaudits from media as well as experts from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of Minnesota ahead of the National Association of Secretaries of State’s Innovation, Dedication, Excellence and Achievement in Service awards which will be announced in July.
This could be the third win a row for the state which has developed a first-of-its-kind electronic warehouse of elections-related information. Colorado used InstantAtlas to develop an interactive website which uses InstantAtlas to display quantitative and qualitative election data, making it freely available to the public. As well as voting behaviour of its 3.5 million active and inactive registered voters, interactive maps charts and tables include information on voting method, compliance with legal requirements, vote credit based on registered party affiliations, election costs and two types of voter registration statistics.
How does ACE help people understand elections better?
Dr. Judd Choate, Elections Division Director
ACE takes information that is available to the public domain and using interactive mapping software presents it in an easy-to-understand format. Judd Choate, Elections Division Director says: “We have 3.5 million registered voters and this can be broken down in a number of ways, for example by gender, to give us a better understanding about what happens in our elections. It is a great way to condense public information for people who usually have the most difficulty finding or accessing the information.”
How is ACE helping to improve the election experience?
The information can also be used by individual county officials to see how the individual counties compare with each other. “We require each county to upload results by a certain time. Elections close at 7pm and we expect a first upload of results at 8pm and then another before the end of the night as a minimum. Each county can see how it is doing in comparison with the others and this transparency is a driver for improvement,” says Judd.
“Our counties have already started to make improvements and this in turn means the voter experience will be better. They know information about how they run elections is made public and they are actively seeking greater participation and are paying more attention to detail. Increased visibility is a good lever for us.”
For the team at the State Department one of the critical measures is the extent to which counties are compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA). Historically, people with disabilities have been disenfranchised by discriminatory state voting rules and procedures.
The ADA prohibits state and local government from denying persons with disabilities equal participation in, or the benefits of their services, programmes, and activities. Now the team is in a position to ensure people with disabilities have access to polling places. “We travelled all over the state and reviewed each county to make sure it is ADA compliant. With the information now available on the website we are getting a better response from the counties,” says Judd.
Why Colorado is setting the pace?
What's next for ACE?
Judd says that when he goes to meetings of the National Association of State Election Directors, he finds out what is happening in other states. “They are all very interested in ACE and certainly we are ahead of the game because we are publishing information in a transparent way. Many states get a certain amount of pushback from county officials, but they can immediately see how something like ACE would help them get the traction they need.”
The team is hoping to expand the datasets to include information from previous election results that will allow a longitudinal analysis. “This will include results from 2013 as well the 2014 primary and general elections so users will be able to compare three sets of results and make comparisons over time. We will be able to see how quickly counties are improving.” says Judd.
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