Civitas’ Updated Votetracker Puts You in Control of 2020 Primary Data | Beaufort County Now

As always, you can follow the votes at Civitas’ VoteTracker site. The difference this year is that we have enhanced the user experience with VoteTracker. civitas, votetracker, 2020 primary, data, january 28, 2020
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Civitas’ Updated Votetracker Puts You in Control of 2020 Primary Data

Publisher's note: This post, by Andy Jackson, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.

    The first votes of the 2020 primary have come in. As always, you can follow the votes at Civitas' VoteTracker site. The difference this year is that we have enhanced the user experience with VoteTracker.

    VoteTracker is a service of the Civitas Institute that gives users the ability to examine early voting data. The data is updated every workday during the early voting period.

    The biggest change to VoteTracker is that users can now filter the data by multiple categories, allowing them to examine a wide variety of subsets. The original VoteTracker only allowed users to filter by one category at a time. For example, you could examine voters in a single congressional district, or you could examine male voters, but you could not examine male voters in a single congressional district. The improved VoteTracker allows you to filter by a virtually unlimited number of categories. For example, if you wanted to examine turnout of white female voters between the ages of 18 and 35 in the part of Mecklenburg County that is in the 9th Congressional District, you can now do that with VoteTracker. You can filter the data either by clicking on the graphic interfaces or by using the "Filter" button at the top of the page.

    Figure 1: Screenshot of VoteTracker data filters

The improved VoteTracker gives users the ability to filter by multiple categories, allowing for a closer examination of data.

    The improved VoteTracker gives users the ability to filter by multiple categories, allowing for a closer examination of data.

    However, perhaps the first change regular users of VoteTracker will notice is that the graphics have been changed. The graphics changes affect both the aesthetics and the functionality of the site. For example, the "Votes Cast" graphic has been changed to eliminate the "sawtooth" appearance that gave the visual impression that one-stop voting was conducted only every other day. The change also creates fewer points on the (horizontal) x-axis, making the graphics look less cluttered and giving a clearer visional representation of the data.

    Figure 2: Old VoteTracker Votes Cast graphic

Graphic from original VoteTracker, displaying turnout of 2019 primary elections. While informative, the graphic placed one-stop and mail votes on different points on the (horizontal) x-axis, creating a “sawtooth” appearance.

    Figure 3: Improved Votetracker votes cast graphic

Graphic from the improved VoteTracker, displaying turnout of 2019 primary elections. One-stop and mail votes are now on the same point on the (horizontal) x-axis, giving a more accurate representation of the data. The new graphics are more intuitive and make it easier for users to visualize and interact with the data. Note: the spike in the middle was the week when both the 3rd and 9th District primaries had one-stop voting.

    Starting with the 2020 primary, we have added a new category: "Ballot Requested." Unaffiliated voters may vote in either party's primary and, with the increasing number of unaffiliated voters in North Carolina, knowing which party's primary they are voting in is important.

    We have also added other features to enhance users' experiences, including adding the Green and Constitution parties to the "Parties" graphic and expanding the "show more" function so users can more easily examine voting patterns in any state legislative district.

    Figure 4: VoteTracker graphic showing ballots requested by unaffiliated voters

VoteTracker graphics showing that most of the unaffiliated voters who have submitted early ballot in the March 3 primary as of January 24 had requested Democratic primary ballots (hardly a surprise since the Democrats have a presidential primary this year). Those who request unaffiliated (nonpartisan) ballots can vote in nonpartisan races like school board, but not either party’s primary.

    But the most important feature of VoteTracker is something that we did not change. You, the user, are still in control of the data. This gives activists, journalists, and all interested individuals the power to examine early voting data themselves and form their own interpretations. Of course, we at Civitas use VoteTracker in our own analysis, and we are excited about how we can use the improved VoteTracker in our own work.

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