Election Data Makes Informed Voters

November 04, 2019 by Melissa Crowe

Election Data Makes Informed Voters

Photo credit: USDA/Flickr

Politics can be divisive these days, but one aspect continues to pull bipartisan support: Transparency. It's a key principle for credible elections.

Whether it’s new ways to view ballot returns or drill into campaign spending, election leaders have more choice than ever when it comes to sharing information with voters and the public in meaningful formats.

Leading up to the election, government leaders in Ramsey County, Minnesota, published daily updates of early and absentee ballots by precinct in a dynamic data story format.

In addition to a comprehensive heat map and links back to the source data, the Ramsey County dashboard shows quick indicators on early and absentee ballot return rates and the share of these ballots as a percentage of the total pre-election voting.

One of the key methods voters scrutinize candidates is via campaign finance reports, which reveal where candidates’ money is coming from and who is supporting their bid for office.

Hawaii has long been on the cutting edge when it comes to transparently sharing data on donations and spending in races for elected office. In this state, anyone — not just political wonks or journalists — can follow the money trail and dig into the donations that fuel campaigns, as well as where candidates choose to spend their money. Previously, though, data was searchable only by candidate.

This new app does something different — and not previously done — by allowing users to track donations and spending across campaigns. Through the app, the Hawaii Campaign Spending Commission tells a story about the data and provides clarity to the public.

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