Election administrators generate heaps of data beyond the election night returns that take center stage, but the data revolution that now drives decisions in campaigns, business, and parts of government has yet to transform how we run elections. As the Presidential Commission on Election Administration noted in its report, a “new technological gap is beginning to emerge, between the data analytical capacity that has improved customer service in the private sector, and the lack of data-driven efforts to improve the experience of voters.” A lack of money for election administrators to pay skilled data pros is largely responsible for creating and sustaining this gap. But fear not, cash-strapped election administrators, there is hope.
One of the great things about the data and tech communities in the U.S. is that they are eager to volunteer their skills to improve government processes and systems. These are hackers for good (also known as civic hackers), and they’re an untapped resource for election administrators.
Open Data Day is a worldwide hackathon that brings together local groups of civic hackers including statisticians, geographers, and coders to explore publicly available data sets and create useful things by analyzing them. This year, the D.C. Board of Elections made its HAVA-mandated electronic voter file available to the Open Data Day D.C. crowd and got some insights about early voting in the bargain.
Open Data Day hacking is structured around project pitches that include a problem statement, available data sources, and the skills needed to arrive at a solution. Participants who are interested in the subject matter and have the skills or knowledge gather in project groups and get to work. At the close of the event, teams present their findings, their methodologies, and the tools they used.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.