How Political Science Is Helping OpenElections in Illinois

April 17, 2016

Earlier this week, we sent out a tweet as sort of a fishing expedition: “Political scientists: if you’ve collected precinct-level election results in your work & are willing to share, get in touch!”

kankakee-2000-resultsMike Sances did. An assistant professor of political science at the University of Memphis, Sances let us know that as part of his dissertation research he had obtained precinct-level results files for many counties in Illinois. In some cases, the files went back more than a decade. Even better, he was willing to share them with us.

Thanks to Sances, and to the National Science Foundation, which funded his research, we’ve begun posting the files – many PDF documents but some HTML and text files – to our Github repository for Illinois sources.

We won’t have every county, nor every election, but this generous contribution to the project is exactly the sort of thing we were hoping to see when we asked. While OpenElections will be processing results data for state and federal races, we’re also posting these files to allow people to find local race results as well – and to avoid requesting the same materials that Sances did for his research. These are public documents; they should be available to the public.

And we’re renewing our call to political scientists: if you have precinct-level election results, either in original format or that you’ve digitized, we’d love to hear from you about making them a part of OpenElections.