Voting Data question

I was curious what any of you might know about researching voter data.  This is a new area for me and so I'm not real familiar with what is available and where I might get it.  The organization that is seeking it is ok with having to submit Sunshine Act requests if needed.

Specifically, there was an issue passed in the state of MO last year that they would like to know precinct by precinct of how they voted.  I think from there, I could get demographic information as needed and am familiar with gathering that information, although, I have never gathered demographic information at a precinct level.

Any suggestions would be appreciated.  Thank you.

  • Unfortunately, voter turnout (or preference) is not part of the American Community Survey. Voter eligibility (by age and citizenship status) is, but not turnout.

    For precinct-level turnout data, I would think you'd need to go directly to the state (or possibly even county), as there's no federal agency that has that type of data. (That said, the New York Times made a precinct-level election map in 2016, and it's amazing:

    For county-level data, I'd look at Dave Leip's Atlas of U.S. Presidential Elections, which despite being produced by a guy named Dave in Massachusetts, is probably the most comprehensive source of county-level election results nationally (but the data from him isn't necessarily free).

    You also might encounter difficulties gathering demographic data at the precinct-level, since ACS data itself doesn't exist at that geography. You'd probably need to apply block group-level demographic data to the precinct maps, which could be a bit messy since they probably don't generally line up, but it's probably your best option.

    Keep us updated, I'm curious what you end up doing.

  • Thanks Bernie.  What's weird is I called and talked to the Elections dpt for the MO SOS and told them specifically what I was looking for and he seemed to think it was no problem and asked me to submit my request.  So, I did that and then got an email back stating that precinct level data is only available county by county.  

    I'm going to look at the links you provided and see what else I can come up with.  And, now with Monday being a holiday, I won't be able to follow up w/the SOS until Tuesday and of course they want it "yesterday".  

    The specific ask of the SOS was:

    Vote total, per district (House and Senate) of Amendment 2 in the August primary election.  We will want to compile the data (for and against) by precinct/ward across the state.  From there, we will be wanting to determine the approximate votes per district (I know some precincts share districts) to get a better view of the voting on this Amendment.

    Thanks for the suggestions, will report back what I find.

    p.s.  I forgot to add is this person at the SOS said that this data is only available at Presidential elections because of the amount of time involved for pulling that data together.  Now, I know moving voting to all electronic is controversial and my comment is not meant to stir anything up here- but this is a situation where I do wish that all voter data was digital.  

  • In many states, precinct level election results are only maintained at the county (or in some cases, city) level.  There are data firms like DataTrust who maintain databases that aggregate the results for large statewide elections, including partisan primaries.  I'm not familiar with MO politics, but if the August primary election was a normal partisan primary election, it might be in their database.  I'm not sure how eager they'd be to let you freely access their database since you're not a paying customer for their "normal" services, but it might be worth your time to see if they could prepare a report for you for a nominal fee.  It would certainly beat trying to find the data for all counties in MO and aggregating it manually!

  • Thank you .  I made a call to a couple of friends who are closer to politics than I am and they told me that this data would only be available from the Election Boards but that the smaller/ more rural areas are likely to not have it at all.  I've gone to a few of their websites and online they don't appear to be publishing it at the precinct level, but I will call them Tuesday (Mon is a holiday) and see if it's available by special request.

    I will check out DataTrust, but I'm sure your right that without being a paid member, there will be a fee involved.  Still worth checking out.  This is a new area of data research for me.  I've always been interested in it, but never had been asked for this kind of research until now.

    Thank you!

  • There's an outfit called that's using volunteers to compile precinct-level information. They could always use help.

  • , that's a neat project- thank you for sharing.  I'm going to look into seeing how I might be able to help.  Looks like they have quite a bit of work left to do.

  • , I sent an email to find out about volunteering and to see if the project was still ongoing because it looked like either it was really far behind in their work based on the last updates made or the project had stalled.

    Anyhow, I got an email back fairly quick with already giving me an assignment.  LOL  It looks like its pretty straightforward stuff and I'll help as often as I can.  They are focusing on general elections right now, then primaries and then go from there.  

    Thanks for the information!