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Social Explorer Data and Visualizations Play Important Role in Kentucky Reproductive Rights Victory

THURSDAY, NOV 24, 2022

Advocates for preserving women’s reproductive rights in Kentucky used demographic data from Social Explorer to identify and encourage potential voters during the commonwealth’s recent vote on the measure.

The Kentucky Constitutional Amendment 2 ballot measure would have amended the commonwealth constitution’s bill of rights to codify that nothing in it ensures a right to abortion or requires funding for abortions. It was defeated by a 52-48 margin by more than 1.4 million voters.

Working with the Commonwealth Alliance for Voter Engagement (CAVE), a statewide coalition of grassroots organizations, Social Explorer’s customizable data visualization and demographic tools were used to identify areas with registered voters likely to be supportive of women’s reproductive rights, such as college students, adults between the ages of 18 and 30, non-evangelical women, and people of color.

“We’re pleased that our data and visualization tools could be used in a vital and important political campaign,” said Andrew Beveridge, Social Explorer co-founder and president. “It’s important to make sure your supporters vote, and our tools can help identify places where supporters are likely to be found.”

The U.S. Supreme Court overturned the 1973 landmark Roe v. Wade decision in August, leading to near-total or total prohibitions on abortion in 13 states. The court’s decision was given credit not only for spurring the rejection of a proposed ban by Kansas voters in August, but also for minimizing Democratic congressional losses in the recent midterm elections.

The Kentucky issue was one of five state abortion-related measures decided by the Nov. 8 election. It was also the closest vote. In Vermont, 77 percent of voters approved a constitutional right to personal reproductive autonomy; 57 percent of Michigan voters voted for a constitutional right to reproductive freedom. Two-thirds of California voters cast ballots in favor of a constitutional amendment to protect reproductive freedoms. In addition, 53 percent of Montana voters turned away a measure that would have criminalized failure to save the life of infants born during the course of an abortion.

“We’re just a state that doesn’t vote as much as we could,” said Kolby Eller, CAVE data manager. “So visualization was key to be able to pull up layers of performance and hone in on where needed to increase turnout.”

Beginning in early fall, Social Explorer built custom data visualization filters that helped opponents of the measure identify more than 1.1 million voter contacts who answered phone calls or texts, personal visits, or viewed direct mail or digital advertisements.

Jessie Skaggs, CAVE communications officer, said the data and visualizations produced by Social Explorer will be helpful in removing obstacles to voting in Kentucky, especially in traditionally marginalized communities.

“Our coalition is trying to make inroads into some of these communities,” she said. “We want to reach people who are normally left out of these processes and get them into the system.”

Author: Frank Bass

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