DemLabs blog

Why is it so hard for some seniors to vote? Could the locations of polling centers be influencing turnout? You make the call.

Case Study
We decided to take a closer look at Richmond, Virginia where senior citizens and minorities make up a significant portion of the electorate. Here are the results of a recent project by DemLabsESRIPeople Demanding Action (PDA), TargetSmart and Davis Wright & Tremaine LLP. An initial analysis of data from NGP VAN showed:

  • 17% of the population in Richmond, VA are over 65 years old
  • 61% of these seniors vote in every election
  • 55% of African American senior citizens vote in every election

We used ESRI's geographical information system (GIS) solutions to:

  • See where the senior citizen centers were located
  • Map polling station locations and precinct boundaries
  • Calculate how far would a senior citizen center have to travel to vote
  • Present the results in the form of an interactive StoryMap

The interactive ESRI StoryMap lets you zoom in to get more details on specific polling stations and senior citizen centers. While this case study is just intended to spark a discussion, the story map reveals critical patterns that may pose significant barriers to certain voting populations. Here are the highlights:

Senior Citizen Centers in Richmond, VA

Polling Stations (2017) & Precincts

Walking distance to Polling Station

Combining senior citizen and polling centers, reveals that some locations require
seniors to travel a long distance in order to vote.

Seniors at St. Francis Home for instance, would have to walk almost a mile to vote!

What's your call? Could Polling Stations be better located to make sure that more senior citizens can vote?

DemLabs expedites the flow of innovation to progressive causes. We neither develop nor resell software. Our approach is based on widely used Silicon Valley practices:
1. Scalable. Identify needs that span many campaigns and aren't just unique, one-off problems. So solving them once, can help many campaigns.
2. Cost Effective. Apply existing solutions rather than develop new software. Sometimes innovation isn't about developing a new app, but creatively applying what's already available and proven to work in the commercial sector. This lowers the cost, time and risk involved - especially with elections fast approaching.
3. Distribution. Test the solutions and connect the vendors with campaigns through a distribution channel. Publicize new approaches and offer centralized support and training.
This project of applying advanced GIS software to increase senior voter turnout exemplifies our approach. We have two (free) workshops planned where we'll review how ESRI and other apps can be applied in campaigns. NY on 4/24 and DC on 5/2

Talk to us if you have a campaign need that needs solving, or a vendor with an app that could help progressives.

Co-Founder, DemLabs

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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.