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GIS provides much-needed analysis support for redistricting

Posted on April 28, 2014
The Kentucky Legislative Research Commission is tasked with redrawing legislative districts every ten years in conjunction with federal census results. With legislative districts changing and population shifting, voting precincts too must change and shift to match new legislative boundaries.

LRC (the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission), pursuant to KRS 7.550, is charged with maintaining and continuously updating a computerized map of census geography and election precinct boundaries. To accomplish this task, LRC works closely with Kentucky’s counties. For Kenton County, this means working with Kenton County Clerk Gabrielle Summe, and her staff.

Summe and her team work tirelessly to draw and redraw voting precinct boundaries to match new legislative boundaries and to accurately detail any and all changes in accompanying reports. To assist her in this process, Summe calls upon NKAPC’s GIS Administration department. She is also able to work from her office by taking advantage of the online mapping provided by the LINK-GIS website.

“As the county board was redrawing precincts to match the changes made by the redistricting, the online access to GIS was awesome,” Summe noted.

Utilizing LINK-GIS allows Summe to overlay multiple layers (voting precincts, city boundaries, road centerlines, census blocks, new House and Senate district boundaries) and see precisely where voting precinct line changes need to occur. Summe and the GIS staff are able to work side by side to view all the necessary data and instantly make changes to the voting precinct boundaries as needed. What once took weeks to accomplish can now be done in a matter of hours.

“NKAPC’s Joe Busemeyer was incredibly helpful in redrawing the precinct maps,” said Summe. “He made himself available on short notice for a large project that was required to be done in a short time period.”

“We could not have done it without him. His willingness to work with the county board and with LRC, so that we complied with House Bill 1, was invaluable."

Working in the GIS format enables a rapid turnaround of the data, which can be sent to LRC for a quick review. When LRC reviews the data and submits comments back to the county clerk, she and the GIS staff can make the changes quickly and get them back to LRC. This is critical on a project such as this that requires several revisions over the course of many months.

After each revision, the GIS team is able to produce simple, yet effective voting precinct maps for Summe and her team to evaluate what changes were made and explain to LRC why they were made. In the end when all the revisions have been made, LRC will have clean, accurate voting precinct data and the Kenton County Clerk can provide Kenton County voters with maps showing clear precinct boundaries and polling locations.