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Electronic maps to outline voting boundaries

August 30, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- The Franklin County Planning Department and Voters Registration Office are partnering to create electronic maps that can show voters and candidates the boundaries of voting precincts.

Until now, the information was presented in paper maps with marker and highlighter lines delineating districts.

"They were there when I started in the 1980s," Deputy Chief Clerk Jean Byers said.

Planning office employees tackle the conversion when they have breaks in the day, Director Phil Tarquino said. Existing software is being used, he said.

The work started before the May primary election, according to Tarquino.

The process involves Global Information System (GIS) technology used in the past for the office's agriculture preservation, greenways and recreation maps.

"We use it for specific projects," Tarquino said.

Voters can already type in their address at www.votespa.com to find out their precinct and polling place, according to Jennie Aines, chief registrar.

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The new electronic maps, which will be posted on the county's Web site when complete, will be more helpful to candidates for office, she said.

Byers said the maps at www.co.franklin.pa.us will coordinate with information about the county's 75 polling places. The county commissioners have discussed changing the layout and accessibility of the county Web site.

Although the GIS software can accept Global Positioning System (GPS) entries, the planning office doesn't input data in that manner, Tarquino said.

The 911 center is typically the entity entering new streets into maps, he said.

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