Calling All Election Data Hounds

March 8, 2013


It’s time. Come one, come all – election nerds, data hounds, open government advocates. Join the growing list of OpenElections volunteers who are helping to capture election results from all 50 states. We’re still looking for folks to join the effort, so if you’d like to help out, let us know which state (or states) you would like to work on.

More than one person can work on a state as a metadata gatherer or in actually obtaining and sending us the results data. So, if you are interested in working on a state that has already been adopted, let us know that too.

For each state, we will first inventory the metadata (the data about the data) for statewide and federal races from 2000 onward. This process will identify how election results are archived in each state. We expect formats to run the gamut, from clean, machine-readable CSVs to scanned image PDFs of hand-written results. This process will also give us a snapshot of the elections that took place, including edge-cases such as special elections and recalls.

We plan to initially focus on statewide and federal races rather than local elections. The goal is to document the data about the elections that took place in each state, including details such as tabulation level of results (precinct, legislative district, county, etc). All these details will be entered into a centralized data admin. You can learn more about hunting down and entering data in the admin in the nitty gritty section. Most importantly, we’re asking volunteers to not just snag data from election agency websites, but to call agency officials to identify the best possible data source.

All of this hard work will get us to the moment of truth – how big a task have we actually set ourselves?

After the metadata is entered into our admin, we’ll devise a strategy to gather results from all states and make them available to the public. Volunteers will assess the data formats for their state(s) and then get the data into our project Dropbox. The work of processing of all of this data will be done by the OpenElections team, but once we have assessed the best strategy for standardizing it, there may be some work to be done here too for more technical volunteers. But, for now, the big push is to get going on the metadata.

If you’d like to join our effort to increase transparency of the democratic process in the US, please contact us at and we’ll set you up with data admin access so you can start gathering metadata. If you’ve already signed up, we’ll be in touch soon with your login credentials.

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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