[Image courtesy of engagedc]

On Monday, EngageDC – a digital agency working with Pew’s Voting Information Project (VIP) – released an infographic illustrating data taken from various sources using VIP during the 2012 election cycle. There’s a lot to see, but the one graphic that grabbed my attention was the one (above) that uses Foursquare check-ins to present a picture (by time zone) of when voters arrived at polling places on Election Day.

A number of things jump out as you look at the graph:

  1. the pattern is similar in each time zone;
  2. each zone saw two peaks – morning and evening;
  3. only the Mountain time zone saw more voters in the evening; and
  4. while there are relatively fewer voters in the middle of the day, flow is still steady.

Of course, this data is not a complete picture of Election Day; it only covers those voters who cast ballots at polling places AND had Foursquare AND used it to check-in. Still, it suggests that election officials looking to manage the voting process – in particular, by planning for capacity needs at polling places – need to account for the existence of this morning/evening rush pattern, which appears to be a national phenomenon.

The graphic also illustrates how new technology and social media can yield data on elections without requiring election officials the do the work themselves. This data is basically crowd-sourced traffic information – while election officials may have contributed polling place locations via VIP, users themselves are then layering information on top of that basic foundation – data which is very useful both in evaluating past elections and planning for future ones.

Kudos to EngageDC for this powerful graphic and to Pew and the entire VIP team for their continued work on this important project!