The Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR), the large social-sciences data archive at the University of Michigan, is hosting a series of webcasts on October 1 through 3 that feature election data held in ICPSR's archives. The webcasts will show how to use them for analysis and teaching.
- Welcome to the 2012 ICPSR Data Fair!, ICPSR.
The event is designed for the social sciences data community at large including researchers, librarians, teaching faculty, students, and policymakers from around the world who are interested in the use of social science data.
The first day will provide an orientation to ICPSR's services, including a tutorial on navigating our newly redesigned Web site. Other topics will include the American National Election Studies, minority voting behavior, and using election data in classroom instruction.
The event is open to everyone, and will be conducted using GoToWebinar technology; you can watch each presentation from your computer without the need to download any software.
A schedule of sessions is available, including links to the sessions themselves.
ProPublica investigation shakes loose TV station public inspection files listing local political programmingSubmitted by jrjacobs on Tue, 2012-09-11 20:17.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a rule that says that TV stations must keep a list of political ad buys and make it available on request by the public. However, until recently, stations weren't required to post this data on the Internet, and so the only way to get the records was to physically travel to the station in person.
However, thanks to ProPublica's Free the Files project -- and especially their Free the Files volunteers!! -- this critical issue has been spotlighted and this summer the FCC passed a rule requiring the stations in the nation's top markets to upload the files to the FCC's website https://stations.fcc.gov/.
The system is far from perfect and has a lot of limitations -- eg. there's not a great search! -- but it's a good start.
Rachel Maddow highlighted this issue of transparency in political advertising on a recent show:
This is the final post in our series on the collaborative End-of-term and Election web archives. This post focuses on the Election 2012 Web archive, particularly on the challenges we are facing in building an engaged community of web site nominators.
The idea for the 2012 Election Web Archive grew out of conversations with the End of Term project partners (Internet Archive, California Digital Library, Library of Congress, the University of North Texas Libraries and the U.S. Government Printing Office) about Harvard’s potential participation in the project. Librarians at the Harvard Kennedy School (HKS - Harvard’s graduate school of government), suggested that a logical focus for them would be the upcoming presidential election. In the past, presidential elections generated a lot of enthusiasm among faculty and students, who frequently requested both printed and online election-related resources from the library. They hoped to harness some of this enthusiasm.
Since the Library of Congress has been collecting in this area for many years, the group decided to collaboratively collect web sites about the 2012 election as a sister collection to the 2012-2013 End-of-term collection. The partners decided to distribute selection responsibilities so that they could each focus on areas of particular interest at their institution. Curators from the Library of Congress would focus on official campaign sites produced by presidential, congressional and gubernatorial candidates, using their in-house tools for tracking nominations.
The Harvard curators would focus on web sites produced by non-profit organizations, academic institutions, fact-checking organizations and some individuals, including blogs, tweets and YouTube videos, using the nomination tool created by UNT for the 2008-2009 project. Examples of these web sites include http://factcheck.org, http://dailykos.com and http://campaignmoney.com/. Initial selections were made by library staff and plans were made to engage faculty, students and staff in relevant academic areas such as Democracy, Politics and Institutions and from HKS Research Centers such as the Institute of Politics; the Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy; the Center for Publish Leadership and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation.
Nomination of web sites began in December 2011 and will continue on an ongoing basis until the election. The Internet Archive began crawling these sites in January 2012, and will continue crawling these sites on a weekly basis until sometime after the 2012 election. After each crawl, detailed reports are distributed to the entire group, highlighting any problematic web sites, for example sites that couldn’t be collected because of robot exclusion files. The campaign sites nominated by Library of Congress curators will be crawled separately as a part of the Library of Congress Web Archives with the ultimate goal of providing a shared interface for researchers to access all of the campaign and other election-related sites.
As soon as crawls were underway, HKS librarians focused on soliciting help in nominating web sites to include in the collection. Previous efforts to engage the community of faculty and students included direct emails, in-person conversations, an advertisement in the student newspaper, and posts to the HKS LinkedIn page, but produced few nominations. The campaign also included contacting staff and librarians at other public policy schools. So far this hasn’t resulted in additional nominations. At the start of the semester in September, HKS librarians will publicize the project on the Journalist’s Resource web site, and possibly on The Monkey Cage web site. In addition, the group made the decision to publish the URL to the nomination tool (which does not require an account to use) directly in public articles about the project. As was learned in the 2008-2009 project, it was more important overall to make the tool as accessible as possible than to lock it down because of the risk of misuse. In the event that any inappropriate URLs are submitted, they can be removed from the list of sites to crawl.
Although to date it has been challenging to engage a broad group of nominators for this project, we remain optimistic that as we move closer to the election it will be easier to spark interest and participation in the project.
How can you help? If you would like to nominate a web site for the Election 2012 Web Archive, visit the nomination tool and start entering URLs. If you have suggestions for us or any questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org, here on this blog, or on Twitter @eotarchive.
Andrea Goethals and Wendy Marcus Gogel
Harvard Kennedy School Library
The United States national elections are a year away, but the Library of Congress is already busy archiving presidential campaign websites and preparing to archive House and Senate campaign sites and more starting in March 2012.
- It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like… Election Archiving Season!, by Abbie Grotke, The Signal, the Library of Congress Digital Preservation blog (November 17th, 2011).
Being Online Is Still Not Enough, Pew Center on the States.
Reviews and Recommendations for State Election Websites 2010
Millions are turning to official state election websites to find the information they need to cast a ballot.
Being Online Is Still Not Enough provides state-by-state reviews and analysis based on detailed criteria of election websites for all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It also includes recommendations for improving each site to better inform voters, and provides a list of best practices adopted by many states to maximize their election office's online presence. This report follows Pew's initial 2008 study, Being Online Is Not Enough.
Assessments were based on three categories: content, lookup tools, and usability. Roll your cursor over the map below to see each state's overall score, and scores broken down by category.
A New Nation Votes is a searchable collection of election returns from the earliest years of American democracy. The data were compiled by Philip Lampi; The American Antiquarian Society and Tufts University Digital Collections and Archives have mounted it online. So far 18,146 elections (about 54% of Lampi's overall collection) have been made digital.
Read more about this database:
- A New Nation Votes: Election Data from 1787 to 1825, By Elisabeth Grant, AHA Today, (May 17, 2011).
Those interested in conducting their own analysis can download the entire A New Nation Votes dataset or the dataset for a single state.
- Revisiting the Early American Republic: The New Nation Votes Database Enables a New Political History, By Rosemarie Zagarri, Perspectives on History (May 2011) [membership required].
The 2010 midterm elections are just a couple of weeks away (November 2, 2010 across the country!). So I thought I'd highlight some cool Web resources to help voters separate the wheat from the chaff of our political candidates.
- Project Vote Smart is a non-partisan volunteer organization that tracks voting records, biographical & contact Information, candidate issue positions, interest group ratings, public statements, and campaign finances. And this election cycle, they've put together a nifty little tool called VoteEasy where you can quickly see candidates from your state and Congressional districts and explore their positions on 12 different issues from abortion, Afghanistan and education to environment, social security and taxes. One word of warning, the site has a soundtrack so turn your speakers down or click on the audio control on the lower right of the site. You've been warned :-)
- MAPLight is a site that tracks Money And Politics (MAP). They've also recently released some California-centered tools like MAPLight California which tracks campaign contributions to Assembly members and Senators in the California State Legislature and MAPLight Prop 23 which tracks donations for/against the hot button issue of Prop. 23 (which suspends Air Pollution Control Laws Requiring Major Polluters to Report and Reduce Greenhouse Gas Emissions That Cause Global Warming Until Unemployment Drops Below Specified Level for Full Year).
- Also centered on California, the Institute of Governmental Studies at UC Berkeley, in collaboration with the Bill Lane Center for the American West at Stanford University, and the Center for California Studies at CSU Sacramento has created the California Choices Website with guides to the nine ballot measures on the November 2 California General Election ballot. The site also features a View Endorsements and Share Your Vote page where you can compare endorsements from political parties, unions, newspapers, and other organizations, and share how you are voting with friends and family via email or Facebook.
Please leave us links to other voter resources in the comments. And DON'T FORGET TO REGISTER TO VOTE WITH YOUR STATE SECRETARY OF STATE!
Today Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has proposed an amendment (No. 2631) (PDF) to the Commerce, Justice, Science, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010 (H.R. 2847) which would eliminate the National Science Foundation's program for political science research.
I don't understand this anti-intellectual sentiment that can equate CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC with real academic analysis. There's absolutely *no* comparison between CNN et al and the American National Election Studies (ANES) and the other important political science research funded by NSF. ANES is a national survey of voters after every presidential election since 1948 widely considered the gold standard of election studies (Disclosure: Stanford University, my employer, is one of the partner institutions that manages the ANES)
Please help the American Political Science Association by signing the petition and contacting your Senator, urging them to vote down the Coburn amendment.
The largest award over the last 10 years under the political science program has been $5.4 million for the University of Michigan for the “American National Election Studies” grant. The grant is to “inform explanations of election outcomes.” The University of Michigan may have some interesting theories about recent elections, but Americans who have an interest in electoral politics can turn to CNN, FOX News, MSNBC, the print media, and a seemingly endless number of political commentators on the internet who pour over this data and provide a myriad of viewpoints to answer the same questions. There is no shortage of data or analysis in this field that would require the government to provide funding for additional analysis.
[Thanks Steve Benen, Political Animal!]
Twitter, the 140 character social media micro-blog, was scheduled to go down for maintenance on monday night. But, according to the CNN blog, a little thing called the Iranian elections and a request from the US State Department caused them to change their scheduled downtime to yesterday afternoon from 2-3 PST (middle of the night Tehran time) in order to ensure that the flow of information from Iran remains open and that Iranians can continue to communicate internally and with the rest of the world. This is a pretty amazing development in that, despite the Iranian restrictions on journalists and news organizations, the world is still able to get up to the minute accounts - complete with video on youtube, hashtags on twitter and facebook. Now libraries just have to figure out how to collect, preserve and organize this massive flow of information ;-)