address. By visiting the county's Web site, residents can simply enter their address to pull up a map of their district. Once at the Web site, voters can find out pertinent information about the voting process.

When a resident enters an address, a map will appear with numerous animated symbols, each indicating specific information. A blue dot represents the user's address and a red star indicates the polling place. The user can also find information such as current elected officials, candidates for office, the sample ballot for each party, election calendars, precinct maps and voter-registration forms.

"We can just send [sample ballots] to the Internet, and it saves us a lot of time," Price said. "It eliminates us having to do the research, look things up, make copies, put things together, mail it out and all that. So it's a cost-savings there." Voters can even pull up their specific ballots and print them off. "It leaves us out of the picture, really, other than the fact we've spent all the time and energy putting this stuff on there prior to an election," Price said. "It saves us time when we're closer to an election."

Youth-Inspired Innovation

In addition to election management and mapping tools, GeoElections WebTools also includes a feature that, while not yet proven useful, is certainly creative: a built-in lesson plan for teachers to use in the classroom. Access to the lesson plan can be gained through the "Maps and More" link on the county Web site, and by then clicking the "Just for Teachers!" button at the bottom of the page.

The lesson plan breaks down what elections are and how they work while incorporating interactivity with the Web site. The lesson plan also provides instructions on how to hold a mock election using printed sample ballots and includes worksheets, vocabulary words and computer lab activities.

ICW incorporated the lesson plan into the Web site after surveying civics teachers throughout Florida, asking them how useful a lesson plan would be -- the results made a compelling case for it.

"It's the younger people who really like to go online and do everything that way," Price said. "There are some teachers out there who are interested in teaching the younger ones about voting. It's kind of exciting, I think, to go online and put in your mom and dad's address and actually see what they're going to be voting on."

Chad Vander Veen  | 

Chad Vander Veen is the former editor of FutureStructure.