This web page describes and demonstrates the use of free US Census TIGER data and ArcExplorter 4.0.1 to: The street names are missing from these demonstration maps only because I haven't found the file that has that data. However, using just three of the files downloaded for use with ArcExplorer 4.0.1 demonstrates the potential of this software and data. However, there is more work to be done which I address in the conclusions and welcome any help in the spirit it is offered.

Getting ArcExplorer 4.0.1

Start by getting a download, ~14 MB, from ESRI of the Java based application. Java works on both PCs, Macintosh and Unix systems . . . everyone. BTW, I have not explored all of the ESRI pages and there is likly more information available than demonstrated here.

Start with the Java program Download ArcExplorer. For precinct data, start with the state index . For these charts, I only used:

There are more layers available including state and school districts.

Madison County Overview

The follow map was generated after loading the three 'shp' (shape) files into ArcExplorer from the downloaded files. It takes a little practice to get the layer order, line size and colors to work out. In this example, the areas are made transparent so the lines from each layer can be seen "stacked" on top of each other.

South Huntsville

This chart is just navigating down to my neighborhood.

Overview Chaffee

This chart continues to zoom in and enables the "NAME" field in the voting area layer. I'm the poll inpector for "Chaffee School" which is the first precinct I'm interested in organizing.

Chaffee Blocks

This last chart further zooms in and shows the Census indentifier for each block. The ultimate goal is to identify the location and political leanings of each voter by block. Then we can make sure the Democrats, Independents and sensible Republicans know what is happening in Democratic politics and that they are important to us . . . not only in 2004 national but also local elections.


These maps are 'eye candy' . . . nice to know but lacking the backend database needed to organize precinct or neighborhood captains. But they are useful for showing the type of data freely available from the US Census. If you are interested in participating in the further software tools development, you are welcome to join some of the Democratic groups working these areas: If you have specific questions, send them to "bwilson4web" using the web based, "" account.