Category Archives: Technical

Political and Civic Data Sources

As I’ve begun to dive back in to building political and civic applications, a frequent question is where to find sources of useful and interesting data. The following is a list of some of the resources I’ve come across along with some notes. Where possible, I list originating or value-added data sources rather than aggregators. There are a gazillion small scale mashups and those are too numerous to list.

I hope you find it useful and please let me know if you come across any more than I should know about. This post will be a work in progress.

Advocacy

Geography

  • Open Civic Data Division Ids is a set of CSVs that seeks to definite political geography in a standardized, hierarchical, composable and decomposable format.

Election Data

  • BallotReady is an expensive commercial product, but offers one of the more complete lists of elections and candidates as either APIs for CSVs. Data isn’t standardized and is hard to work with, but at least it exists.
  • Democracy Works appears to be the inheritor of the Voting Information Project, the first big effort to combine election data (and the data the powers the Google Civic API.) I have not used this product yet.
  • Google Civic API is from Google, so it’s robust, well-documented, and relatively affordable for small usage levels. However, don’t let the fact that it’s from Google fool you into thinking the data is complete. It has enormous holes (e.g. no Florida state representatives) and doesn’t seem to be maintained between cycles.
  • TargetSmart while better known for their voter files, TargetSmart also has a great tool for getting the districts for a given voter.

Candidate and Financial Data

  • Open Secrets provides APIs and bulk data particularly related to financial contributions to politicians.
  • ProPublica Congress API is a roll-up of some of the other data sources listed here, but if you want a quick way to get data on US congress members in one place at low volume, it’s pretty nice.
  • BallotPedia is a commercial API that has a lot of data on current and former members of congress. So far, it seems to have the most of this kind of data in one place.

Supporter Data

  • Open Supporter Digital Interface (OSDI) is a set of standards for exchanging supporter data. It’s out of date in some respects (like no graph data), but it’s a good way to jump start your schema.

I am not getting into voter files here – those are too dependent on your purpose.

Thanks to Ramon Tarango for some suggestions.

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