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Montana Votes Database Updates from House District Changes

  • 03/13/2013 1:54 PM
    Message # 1241946

    Each county should be actively involved in creating new voter precincts from the recently adopted Legislative House Districts.  After these are adopted within each county there is the next pressing issue of updating records in the Montana Votes database, which I understand is used by each county in Montana. 

    When Gallatin County loaded data into the Montana Votes for the first time, we used an old MSAG generator tool (AML-based) to create the road ranges in the Address Library.  These since have been updated in our Elections Office on an as-needed basis.

    Gallatin County has experienced a significant change in precinct boundaries which will generate numerous changes to the Montana Votes Address Library database.  If your county has an equal number of changes, your GIS or Elections personnel will need to make an equal number of edits.  Changes must be completed by the first of June, 2013 to make ready for the June Primary Election.

    Please weight in on your thoughts concerning this upcoming update.  Does anyone have a more recent tool for updating the road range records?  Are there others interested in collaborating to develop such a tool?

  • 03/13/2013 2:48 PM
    Reply # 1241983 on 1241946
    It was my understanding that the address ranges have to be hand entered and can't be loaded from an app/tool. Is that not the case?
  • 03/14/2013 10:44 AM
    Reply # 1242666 on 1241946

    Allen, thank you for the heads-up information on this.

    I completed a number of draft re-precinct proposals for our election office using the Esri Districting extension.  That certainly made the work a breeze.  That staff are now reviewing to approve or not.

    As I wasn't here for the last round of re-precinting, I'm not aware of the needs our election office will have for MT Votes.

    Absent any auto tool to load address ranges, does MT Votes allow for bulk edits?  I'm thinking a GIS query could be done that selects ranges for current precinct, then compare to proposed/new precinct?  Kind of a spatial compare?  That might help to be able to select what the address range / current precinct is...then bulk replace with same range and new precinct?

    I need to visit with the election staff here, as noted, I missed the fun from 2000 Census update, so this is new to me.

    Thank you again Allen for bringing it up.


  • 03/18/2013 9:00 AM
    Reply # 1245496 on 1241946
    We're still working on finalizing the draft precinct maps for our Election Department.  I just talked to our Election Department about updating the addresses in MT Votes, and she was planning on updating the new addresses manually and thought it would take them about a month. I mentioned that she might want to consider calling the Secretary of States office to inquire as to if we could provide them a mass upload, and she said she would think about it and she said she would love to hear if anyone else talks to them as well. It might help if the Secreatry of State's office hears from a couple counties inquiring about the possibility, you think? I will keep you posted if/when I hear more from her about it.
  • 03/21/2013 10:04 AM
    Reply # 1248547 on 1241946

    I discussed this issue with our Election Administrator, who also happens to be our Clerk and Recorder and asked her to weigh in on this discussion.  She formulated this reply:

    Actually, the address library in Mt Votes was converted by our software provider before each county went live on MT Votes.  In Gallatin County, your department provided  an address table to our previous software company that uploaded the information into the Voter Pro software from CSA in Billings.  Then our MT Votes provider with the help of CSA in Billings took the address library and converted for the appropriate fields in MT Votes before we went live in which was about October of 2005.


    We cannot automatically upload the data into MT Votes.  I am a member of the technology team that works with the system for the Secretary of States’s office.   (Yellowstone and Missoula Counties also have a member on the team.)  Our team decided that the cost involved to upload the addresses was not worth the time or effort.  It only happens once every 10 years, and even though every county is on MT Votes, the way the address libraries are used can be slightly different. – For example, several counties use legal descriptions instead of actual street addresses.  Some small counties only  have one house district and one precinct so they have very little change that has to be done. 

    Our team determined that it was safer to do the manual update in a controlled manner.  The Secretary of State has provided each county election administrator with a scheduled time-line, and we will be doing training for the counties that need help.   The changes in MT Votes have to be done by July 15th, 2013 so that we will be able to conduct the Municipal Primaries in September with the corrected address libraries. 

    This seems labor intensive for counties with numerous changes, but in our case, the Elections Department will be taking on that burden.  I don't know if that will be the case in every county so you might want to have this discussion with your Elections Administrator in case they are expecting your GIS staff to do the manual updating into Montana Votes.

  • 04/04/2013 8:30 AM
    Reply # 1259662 on 1241946

    Hi all,

    My two cents.

    This thread is a perfect example of why our community needs to ensure someone is keeping track of Montana legislation and how it affects our GIS community.  In my simple mind this was always something I thought our GIO should be doing but that's not possible anymore as "our" GIO FTE was reassigned to a new bureau inside SITSD from what I've learned in some discussions during this session.  To be quite frank about it I don't think that part of the job was getting done because I rarely - if ever? - saw any correspondence on MAGIP listserver or otherwise about how legislative bills or actions woudl affect our community from our past GIO.  I know there were interactions with the GIS Service Center employees but these were not always as "transparent" to our community as I would of appreciated.

    Good times ahead though because in recent discussions I've had with Jennie, Stu, and the fairly new Department of Administration Director Shelia Hogan, I am confident that between Jennie and our new State CIO Ron Baldwin that this need for our community will be met.


    Bryant Ralston

  • 04/05/2013 8:23 AM
    Reply # 1260650 on 1241946

    I agree that having technical people involved in the beginning stages of the redistricting would have been a good idea. This is the second time I have been involved with redistricting and it seems some things just don't make much sense. Specifically: we were given maps of  the new house district boundaries with which to draft the precincts inside, then were asked to draw up legal descriptions for the precincts. However, in some areas, we cannot tell what they house district boundary is following, and are told there is no legal description, and that the maps are not authoratitive. The authoratitive source for the house district boundaries is to be the legal descriptions drawn up by the counties (according to the Legislative Services Division). So what is the starting authoratitive source? How are the counties supposed to write legal descriptions when we having nothing authoratitive to go off of? It's bizarre. And, yes, we do have the computer generated metes and bounds that they said "may or may not be helpful." Anyway, we are just pushing through it and are almost done. It only happens every 10 years, so no big deal. Have a great day everyone!

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