Tools for Designing Healthy In-Person Polling Places

Juan Gilbert - University of Florida

inLine Ticketing System:

An easy-to-use system that allows poll workers to hand out tickets to voters waiting in line. These tickets are printed out on an as-needed-basis and given to voters as the lines get long. Each ticket is printed with a QR code, along with a date and time to return for voting in English and Spanish. As voters return at their designated time, the QR code is scanned, and they proceed to vote. More information on the system and its development is available here.

Caltech/MIT Voting Technology Project

Managing Polling Place Capacity with Social Distancing:

Polling places will allow fewer people inside with social distancing measures. This will increase both physical line lengths and wait times, which may require finding new places for voters to wait. This tool can be used to estimate outside queue capacity needs, estimate average wait times, and estimate how many voters will wait too long.

Find Polling Place Bottlenecks with Social Distancing:

Polling place operations will need to change with social distancing measures. This tool will help to determine the capacity of a new system with several different social distancing measures. It will also find how the bottleneck of the process may have shifted in response to the changes.

Analyze Lines During a Surge of Voters:

Many polling places experience an early-morning (and/or late-day) rush of voters. This tool will help officials understand how long it will take for the line to dissipate and how long lines will be following the initial surge. 

Line Optimization and Poll Worker Management Calculator:

This tool, developed at the request of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration, uses queueing theory to calculate the minimal number of poll books or voting booths in a polling place so as to satisfy a service target on maximum waiting times. The tool has both a web interface, which allows the exploration of simple models, and an Excel spreadsheet download, which allows jurisdiction-wide planning. Instructional videos are also included.

Report on Managing Polling Place Resources:

This report provides a gentle introduction to queuing theory as applied to polling places. It includes a protocol for gathering data that is needed to provide inputs into some of the tools linked to from this site.

Center for Inclusive Democracy

Voting Location Siting Tool:

The Voting Location Siting Tool is a mapping tool designed to provide assistance to county election offices in the placement of voting locations. Its user-friendly interactive web-based mapping system identifies areas within a half mile in diameter where voting locations have the most success in serving voters. Areas are identified through a facility allocation model, incorporating local demographic and voting data.

Center for Tech and Civic Life

50 Ideas for Recruiting and Retaining Election Workers:

Polling Place Resource Planner:

A free program to help you estimate resource needs at a polling place.

University of Rhode Island VOTES

COVID-19 Model:

Simulate your in-person Election Day(s) system to help make more informed decisions with COVID-19.

Visual Simulation Models:

Simulate your in-person Election Day(s) system to help make more informed decisions.