Are We Represented

Purpose

The purpose of this project is to compile a dataset of demographic information about communities and their elected officials and to create a web application that allows community members, academics, journalists, policy-makers and advocates to access and use the information.

The first phase will focus on North Carolina county commissions since this represents a more manageable set of data and data analysis questions. In the future, we hope to include more elected offices and possibly use the information to look at the impact of representation on policy and outcomes

Is this a partisan project?

Code for America and the Code for America brigade network are non-partisan, as is this project. At the same time, our work is grounded in a set of principles and values that drive our choices about which projects we undertake and how we approach them. In particular, we believe strongly that government benefits and services should benefit all and that political processes need to be inclusive. We also firmly believe that policy-making needs to be informed by data. This project reflects those core values.

Project Details

Ideally we want to offer a minimal useful tool in time for the 2018 election season. This is our best opportunity not just to aid those reporting on and organizing for the midterm elections, but also to learn exactly what is and isn’t useful in any tool we might produce.

So, our target app basically needs to be a mobile-friendly website that makes available the following demographic breakdown information (gender, race) for every county in the state:

  1. Overall county population
  2. Currently eligible voter population
  3. Currently registered voter population
  4. People who voted in the previous election
  5. County commission candidates
  6. Current commissioners

Item 2 is italicized because it may be more difficult to obtain and so may not be included, at least in the first iteration.

The website should provide a reasonably user-friendly way to look at any given county, along the lines of the mockups below. The Open Data Policing site offers capabilities that may also inspire the tool being developed here. The site should also make the raw data behind the visual presentation available as a download.

Until candidates have filed and voter registration begins in earnest, we should take #3 from the 2016 data, which is the last time there were county commission data. As a test set, we might also use the 2016 data for #5. There are two possible views: how the data looks just before the election and how it looks after (where #4 and #6 change as a result of the election).

Community Stakeholders

Potential users of the data include journalists, academics, get-out-the-vote (GOTV) organizations, and equity advocates, among others. Our initial work will focus on making the raw data available while project participants work with these potential stakeholders to identify use cases and gather requirements that will drive development of the web site or application.