This week, the Virginia Department of Elections released the Virginia Election Data Project, a cooperative effort between the department and local registrars with assistance from The Pew Charitable Trusts Election Initiatives. The project analyzes election and voter data provided to the Department by local election offices and presents the data visualized in a user-friendly online format. “Like most election offices, we house a huge amount of data,” explained Edgardo Cortes, commissioner of elections. “While much of it is personal information that needs to be kept securely, there are ways we can be transparent about the data related to election processes to help the public understand election administration better. This is a way for us to use objective data to improve how we administer elections by figuring out best practices and sharing them across the state.”
The department created a working group of local election officials to provide feedback and guidance during development of the project. The working group consisted of Tammy Alexander, electoral board member, City of Petersburg; April Cain, electoral board member, Henrico County; Lisa Jeffers, director of elections, City of Waynesboro; Bill Lewis, electoral board member, City of Hampton; Margaret Marcenelle, electoral board member, Mecklenburg County; John Nunnaly, electoral board member, Caroline County; Donna Patterson, general registrar, City of Virginia Beach; Greg Riddlemoser, director of elections, Stafford County; and Allison Robbins, director of elections, Wise County.
“This project provides a useful tool for identifying strengths and challenges in local election offices. We are building on the long history of working together as an election community to identify ways to better serve our voters,” Donna Patterson, City of Virginia Beach general registrar and a member of the working group, said in a statement.
The idea to partner with Pew came from Pew’s Election Performance Index and wanting to undertake a similar project but at the state level. Before starting this project, the team at Pew knew that Virginia had exemplary election data and the state makes a lot of it available to the public on their website. But they also knew that making data public isn’t enough to influence policy change or inform the public.
Full Article: electionlineWeekly.