About the Project


Voting America examines long-term patterns in presidential election politics in the United States from the 1840s to today as well as some patterns in recent congressional election politics. (Earlier congressional elections will be added in the future). The project offers a wide spectrum of animated and interactive visualizations of how Americans voted in elections over the past 168 years. You can also find expert analysis and commentary videos that discuss some of the most interesting and significant trends in American political history.

Voting America has been developed by the staff of the Digital Scholarship Lab at the University of Richmond. Andrew Torget, former director of the Digital Scholarship Lab, led the overall development of the initial version of Voting America that was launched in 2008. Nathaniel Ayers, the DSL's web designer, designed both the original and the revised versions of Voting America and developed the animated maps and interpretative videos. Scott Nesbit, now the DSL's associate director, Amanda Kleintop, a DSL research intern, and Edward L. Ayers, the president of the University of Richmond and a frequent DSL collaborator, all contributed to that version of Voting America. The current version of Voting America, launched in 2011, adds recent congressional elections and the 2008 presidential election and expands the visualizations beyond the continental US. Nesbit amassed and manipulated geospatial data. Nathaniel Ayers redeveloped the animations and redesigned the site. Robert K. Nelson, current director of the DSL, revised and rewrote some text on the site and wrote the code now used on the site. A number of student interns contributed to the production of usable datasets and geodata and to the production of the current version; those students are Megan Molnar, Stefan St. John, Holly McAleese, Taylor Hotchkiss, and Bridget Ward. Edward L. Ayers continues to serve as consulting editor on the project. The interactive application in Voting America was developed and engineered for the Digital Scholarship Lab by GroundWorkDesign of Richmond, Virginia.

The political data that underlies Voting America was collected from four sources:

The GIS shapefiles for county boundaries in the United States came from the National Historical GIS project (NHGIS) at the University of Minnesota. Congressional boundaries for the 106th through the 111th Congress come courtesy of the National Atlas of the United States. Congressional boundary files for the 103, 104, and 105th congresses come from the U.S. Census bureau, Geography division. Population data was also collected from NHGIS and has been aggregated by decade corresponding to the U.S. census.

The animated maps were created using the ArcGIS suite of digital cartography tools to map the raw political data in space and time. A variety of visualizations of these dataset were generated in and then exported from ArcGIS. The exported maps were then combined into animated timeseries using Adobe AfterEffects to create the animated maps. The interactive application developed by GroundWorkDesign uses Adobe Flash and Flex.

Please contact Robert K. Nelson at rnelson2@richmond.edu with any comments or questions about Voting America.

If you would like to view the previous version of Voting America please go here: americanpast.richmond.edu/old/voting