California Voting Location Siting Tool

Developed by the Center for Inclusive Democracy (CID) at the University of Southern California, formerly the California Civic Engagement Project, this interactive web-based mapping tool is designed to assist California elections officials in the state’s 58 counties.

About This Tool

The Voting Location Siting Tool aids election officials in the siting process by producing optimal voting location and ballot drop boxes for half-mile grid squares across the county. Election officials are able to find specific locations for consideration in these areas using local knowledge of their county’s resources and needs. The Siting Tool also provides visualization of demographic and voter data at the community level. Currently, the Tool provides full data modeling for the 15 counties that have adopted the California Voter’s Choice Act. The Voting Location Siting Tool is being expanded to the rest of California’s 58 counties in two phases in August and September of 2020.

In the first phase, CID will be releasing multiple types of community-level demographic and voter data, each viewable in separate interactive maps. Communities can immediately begin using these data to start identifying voting locations or to organize voter outreach.

In phase two, full data modeling by CID will bring together all the voting and demographic data into one single interactive layered map, which can then be used by communities to further identify placement of local optimized voting locations.

Counties that have not adopted the Voter’s Choice Act are currently in phase one. Phase Two for these counties is coming soon.

Note: The Tool sites the legally required number of voting locations in a county as a minimum baseline. The Siting Tool’s purpose is to model the location of voting sites, not to suggest what number of voting locations best serves a community.

What is the Voter's Choice Act?

In 2016, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 450, known as the Voter's Choice Act (VCA), which allows counties to choose to adopt a new voting system. In counties choosing to adopt the new model, every registered voter is mailed a Vote-by-Mail (VBM) ballot, which voters can either mail in, or return at a ballot drop box or a newly established vote center. At vote centers, which replace traditional neighborhood polling places, voters can cast their ballots in person, drop off their completed VBM ballots, access conditional voter registration, receive replacement ballots, and access additional resources, such as language assistance and accessible voting machines. There are fewer vote centers than polling places by design and vote centers are open to voters for up to ten days prior to Election Day and available for all voters to utilize countywide. Voters can choose to cast their vote through the mail or at a drop box, and those desiring an in-person experience (e.g., using an accessible voting system, location convenience or for a sense of community) would have numerous days to do so rather than just one. Five of California’s 58 counties adopted the model for the 2018 election cycle—Madera, Napa, Nevada, Sacramento and San Mateo. The following counties adopted the VCA for the 2020 election cycle: Amador, Butte, Calaveras, El Dorado, Fresno, Los Angeles (LA county chose to not mail all registered voters VBM ballots in the 2020 primary), Mariposa, Orange, Santa Clara and Tuolumne. In total, fifteen California counties are conducting elections under the Voter’s Choice Act in 2020—approximately half the state’s current registered voter population.