Polling Place Locations in Wisconsin: Does it Matter?

(Inactive) IMPACT, Inc.   (Milwaukee)

February 2016

IMPACT, Inc. has been chosen as a finalist for Azavea's Summer of Maps program for a proposal relating to mapping voting and polling places in Milwaukee.  Winners will be selected in May.

Research suggests that locations of polling places influence voter turnout likely due to availability of transportation and the ability to search for a location. In Wisconsin, with the voter ID law being enforced this year, the ability to obtain a valid ID could also influence voter turnout. Groups such as Citizens Action of Wisconsin have gone door-to-door in parts of Milwaukee providing voters without transportation a ride to their polling place. However, less data-driven methods have been used to identify specific neighborhoods in Milwaukee that experience challenges to voting. The purpose of this project is to describe and visualize challenges to voting in Milwaukee for advocacy groups. 

Data available: Demographic data from the United States 2010 Census and local data on voting wards and polling places will be provided. Data on registered voters, those who meet voting age requirements by ward, and voter turnout in the 2012 presidential election are available. Locations of Department of Transportation Service Centers are available from Milwaukee County. 

How the maps and reports will be used: The maps and reports will be used for learning around challenges to voting in the City of Milwaukee and, to improve the impact other nonprofits and advocacy groups can have. It will be important to observe if any racial disparities to voting exist given Milwaukee’s history of segregation and racial tension. If it is discovered that there are challenges to voting, the findings could help identify residents, groups, programs, and agencies at the neighborhood level that could work on them. Other members of the NNIP, which consists of local government agencies, nonprofits, and academic institutions among others, have expressed interest in voter turnout, voter rights, and barriers to voting, and this would be an opportunity to bring more attention to voting at the neighborhood level and to share our methodology and findings with other cities looking at the same issue.