We were all preoccupied with the numbers on Election Night.
But on Tuesday, the Alameda County and Contra Costa County election departments also quietly unrolled a new feature on their voting results web pages: Mapped election results by precinct.They did it so quietly, in fact, that they didn’t tell anybody. They wanted to work out the kinks before the big whopper of an election coming in November.
It’s a pretty cool idea.
You can click on a race, then on the map and see how the results look visually throughout the county for a particular candidate or ballot measure. Election officials have combined digitized precinct maps and voting results with now commonly available geographic information system software. (Heck, it’s so easy that I have it here at the paper; it’s called ArcView.)
Alameda County’s map page was hard to find: You had to click on a box in the upper right-hand side of the page called “precinct maps.”
Not everyone knows what a precinct map is. (See explanation below.)
But once you get in, it’s great. The page shows city and highway boundaries, which really helps orient viewers. The zoom button lets you get close to specific neighborhoods. Check out the results in the Senate District 9 race and see which neighborhoods went for Loni Hancock and which preferred Wilma Chan.
Contra Costa County’s map feature needs more work, though. You can easily find the map on the results page, but the legend uses funky colors; the legend isn’t next to the map; and you can’t add city boundaries or freeways in order to have a good orientation about what you’re looking at. It doesn’t have a map zoom button although it has a larger map option, the bigger version doesn’t include the legend.
The other problem, which neither county can do much about, is that there’s no one site that aggregates precinct map results for state Assembly and Senate districts that cross county lines.
Assembly District 15, for example, crosses four counties and the other two, San Joaquin and Sacramento, don’t have posted precinct result maps yet. The Secretary of State compiles the numerical results across county lines but it doesn’t provide precinct maps.
Oh, what’s a precinct? It’s a geographic area that election officials designate. The county is comprised of multiple precincts. In rural areas, they are larger and comprise fewer voters while the dense, urban regions have multiple precincts. But without city boundaries, some highways and even some bodies of water, a plain old precinct map is hard to read.