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Crowdmap

January 27, 2012 in Community, Craft, Resources, Technology

Ordinary people have a voice, and interesting things happen when you aggregate those voices and visualize the results. Surprising information and insights can be found.

Crowdmap is a tool that allows you to crowdsource information and see it on a map and timeline. It is the Ushahidi platform, built by the team who created Ushahidi as a way for anyone to run their own crowdsourcing site without having to know the intricacies of running their own server. It’s free and it’s yours to use.” Source: Crowdmap

 

“Digging Out DC (With Help From Kenya)

Ushahidi (Swahili for “testimony”) proved to be the Zelig of 2010 disasters. A social-media application built in Kenya to let citizens alert each other to election unrest, Ushahidi also played a crucial role in mapping the oil spill and the Haiti quake. Ushahidi even helped Washington DC dig itself out from its Snowpocalypse of 2010. The capital, lying more than 50 miles below the Mason Dixon line, didn’t quite know what to do when several feet of snow blanketed the city. But Ushahidi, which is open-source and free to use, was adapted to let Washingtonians record the locations of downed trees, clogged streets, and shoveling squads. Crowdsourced data may be imperfect, but in a crisis—or in a snow-smothered Southern city—it can provide a lot of useful information, fast.” Source: The Atlantic

American Judicature Society’s Guides to Judicial Elections

December 29, 2011 in Craft, Education, Resources

In recent years, proposals have been introduced by legislators, governors, courts, and citizens’ groups in nearly every state to limit the role of politics in the selection of state judges.

The extent of these activities underscores the recognition that an independent judiciary is essential to the maintenance of public trust and confidence in the court system.

The American Judicature Society, through funding from the Open Society Institute, has contributed to these efforts by compiling comprehensive information on judicial selection processes in each of the fifty states and the District of Columbia. Topics covered include methods of selecting, retaining, and removing of judges; successful and unsuccessful reform efforts; the roles of parties, interest groups, and professional organizations in selecting judges; and the diversity of the bench.” Source: American Judicature Society’s Guides to Judicial Elections

Project Vote Smart

December 5, 2011 in Community, Education, Resources

Since Project Vote Smart was inaugurated in 1992, we have offered special services and programs to journalists in order to enhance their coverage of local and federal candidates, legislation, and elections. Over the years, Vote Smart has partnered with hundreds of national, state, and local news organizations, all lending their support for our programs and comprehensive databases on more than 40,000 candidates and incumbents, used to help Americans Vote Smart.

Relevant Programs

Research Assistance
Call the Voter’s Research Hotline (1-888-VOTESMART) or email your questions to media@votesmart.org in order to access a free research and referral service for working journalists. Our researchers have access to an extensive library and databases of continually-updated information on elected officials, candidates, issues, special interest groups, and government activities, in order to help journalists with fact-checking and background information for their stories. Also view our web directory for a complete list of information found on our website.

Resources for Your Website
Ready-to-upload widgets, logos and banners make it easy for news organizations to customize Vote Smart’s information resources for their own communities and audiences. To create customized web pages and applications using all or selected parts of Vote Smart’s databases, news organizations can use our Application Programming Interface (API). The API will respond to simple requests for data, such as ‘get bio information for candidate Y’ and ‘get Votes for candidate X.’

The Political Courage Test
Each election cycle, news organizations support our programs by both informing their audience about Vote Smart’s candidate information, and by encouraging their candidates to provide relevant issue information through the Political Courage Test. Previous election-year Test results show, when local news organizations speak out in support of the Political Courage Test, candidates are more likely to provide answers. Candidates’ subsequent answers to Test questions are offered in advance of public release to collaborating news organizations, in order to enrich their campaign coverage. For more information email media@votesmart.org or call 406-859-8683.

The Political Courage Test is the organization’s flagship program, asking all candidates one central question: “Are you willing to tell citizens where you stand on the issues you may face if elected?” Candidates who reply “yes” are asked to address key issues known to be both consistently of top concern to the American people and also likely to come up in the next legislative session.

VoteEasy™
Utilizing thousands of hours of research and a vast collection of data assembled by Vote Smart researchers, this interactive tool allows the general public to quickly and easily see which presidential and congressional candidates align with their views on key issues such as abortion, immigration, and the environment. Use it now! News organizations are encouraged to link directly to VoteEasy™ by placing VoteEasy banners on their elections website page.

“The ultimate tool for pre-election research; [VoteEasy] does a great job of connecting you to political candidates that share your views in a fun, dynamic way.” – CommArts Annual

  • 2011 CommArts Interactive Annual Award Winner
  • 2011 Webvisionary Award Winner, “Visualize This” Category
  • Featured as part of the Museum of Modern Art’s “Talk to Me” exhibit” Source: Vote Smart

OpenSecrets.org

October 17, 2011 in Craft, Policy, Resources

OpenSecrets.org is the nation’s premier website tracking the influence of money on U.S. politics, and how that money affects policy and citizens’ lives.

The Center for Responsive Politics launched the website following the 1996 elections. Before that time, the Center, founded in 1983 by U.S. Sens. Frank Church (D-Idaho) and Hugh Scott (R-Pa.), published its work tracking money in politics and its effect on elections and public policy in extensive reports and books. The first Open Secrets book, published in 1990, was a massive 1,300 pages and analyzed contributions by political action committees in the 1988 congressional elections. Featuring contributor profiles for every member of Congress, it was an unprecedented resource that illuminated money’s role in congressional elections and policymaking. Open Secrets also profiled the spending patterns of interest groups and major industries, and included an extensive “Big Picture” section on the patterns of PAC spending and the flow of PAC dollars to each congressional committee. The second edition of Open Secrets, published in 1992, added an analysis of large individual donations — a mammoth task that had never before been attempted.

The OpenSecrets.org website not only allowed the Center to expand its reach beyond those willing to invest in its voluminous and expensive publication, but also greatly accelerated the timing and depth of its analysis, making the Center’s research more readily available to those making decisions about candidates, policy and the influence of money. For the 1998 elections, the Center produced online contribution profiles for every federal candidate well before Election Day. For the 2000 elections, the Center unveiled several new groundbreaking features on OpenSecrets.org, including detailed contribution profiles of more than 100 industries and special interest areas, fund-raising breakdowns for federal party committees and analyses of contributions from special interests to members of specific congressional committees.

Today, the Center has expanded the information it analyzes beyond just the Federal Election Commission’s offerings on campaign finance. OpenSecrets.org has become a clearinghouse for data and analysis on multiple aspects of money in politics — the independent interest groups flooding politics with outside spendingfederal lobbying, Washington’s “revolving door”federal earmarks and the personal finances of members of Congress, the president and other officials.” Source: Opensecrets.org