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Four-Fifths of U.S. States Still Not Releasing Structured Election Data

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, November 3 2009

Here's a neat little civic engagement project to get started on tomorrow. Google and the Pew Center on the States have been working for years now on something called the Voting Information Project, aimed a solving one of democracy's most annoying information problems: people, often times, don't know where to vote, how to vote, and whose names are going to be on the ballot when they get there. Many of us rely upon local newspapers and other civic-minded new organizations to inform us on the basics of election day, but we all know how well that business is going. Besides, state and local election boards should be the final stop for verified and trusted information on the ABCs of voting in the United States of America. America still has some distance to go before we correct all the structural inequalities around American elections, and in this particular case, the web can help.

Only, the thing is that as we arrive at Election Day 2009, there are just 10 states in the union (Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, or Virginia -- plus the city of Los Angeles, a place unto itself) that are publishing data in an open, structured format of the kind recommended by the Voting Information Project. You've been paying attention, and you know that that leaves forty U.S. states, plus a couple districts and territories, that aren't playing along -- and might benefit from a kick in the pants from the public making the case that not knowing the very basic facts about the very basics of democracy is something whose time has passed.