BURLINGTON, ON CANADA – (November 30, 2020) – The 2020 Presidential Election season has been like no other, with numerous counties across the US seeing higher turnout than in 2016. Among them was Collin County, Texas, where local government worked to establish accessible voting information systems ahead of Election Day, guiding voters in rain, shine, or pandemic alike.
Ultimately, Collin County voters turned out in record-shattering numbers. During the early voting period alone, residents cast a total of 421,920 ballots, exceeding the 356,688 votes cast during the entirety of the 2016 Presidential Election. 36,689 additional votes were cast on Election Day itself, amounting to an impressive overall turnout rate of 76%. Collin County also had one of the highest early voting participation rates in Texas among first-time primary or general election voters, indicating a high degree of new voter engagement.
To achieve this level of participation, the county implemented a number of outreach tools to help people vote efficiently, especially given the added difficulties posed by COVID-19. One such tool was an online web map which displayed voting locations and their wait times. This identified official polling locations for early voting and Election Day, and it allowed people to avoid longer waits and crowds, thus helping to maintain social distancing and creating a safer experience for all.
To enhance this data, the county linked it to Qwhery’s Where to Vote voice action. This allowed people to directly ask their Google Assistant or Amazon Alexa-enabled devices where to vote, based on their current location or another specified location. As a result, they obtained fast, clear responses which identified the nearest voting station, reported on its current wait time, and texted them directions if requested—no extra searching required. During both early voting and Election Day, residents were able use voice queries to find necessary polling place information in moments.
Collin is one of the fastest-growing counties in the country. In fact, it ranks within the top 10 counties nation-wide in terms of population gains over the past decade. Information solutions like these allow local governments to keep pace with growth, communicate effectively with citizens, and exercise flexibility in extraordinary circumstances. This election has been a reminder of the important role that location-based technology plays in civic engagement efforts, and the potential it has for further impact moving forward.
Where to Vote is a configurable solution template built by Esri Inc that lets you quickly create web maps to help your constituents locate their nearest places to vote. Qwhery seamlessly integrates with this solution for both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
Written by Anna Xing, on behalf of Qwhery.