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Thanks very much to my friend and former Stanford colleague Kris Kasianovitz (as well as the awesome librarians at UC Berkeley!) for pointing to this Nature article “American local government elections database” (and it’s Open Access to boot!!). Kudos to de Benedictis-Kessner, Lee, Velez, et al for the yeoman’s work of collecting this massive amount of data AND for making it freely available to others! This is an excellent example of what researchers should do when they collect data for their research — publish their article AND make their dataset publicly available in an open data repository like Open Science Framework (OSF) or ICPSR (the grandpappy of all social science data repositories!). And it’s also a critical dataset for researchers in an area of government data (state and local) that is frequently difficult to find and even less frequently collated across multiple states and municipalities. One of my most frequent data requests is for elections but most researchers want to do comparisons across jurisdictions, states, years etc and there just is no “one dataset to rule them all.”
As KrisK notes in her post to the GOVDOC-L Listserv, PLEASE encourage faculty, students, researchers, journalists etc who put in the time and energy to collect local level data to make their datasets available through institutional or other data repositories (e.g. OpenICPSR, OSF, etc.). Collecting important data, especially at the multi-state and multi-municipality level, is a Many-hands-make-light-work kind of activity and is so impactful for other researchers, students, journalists, and the public who are exploring and trying to understand their worlds.
“One of the most persistent challenges in the study of urban and local politics in the United States is the lack of information about local elections, candidates, and elected officials. As a result, studies on local elections tend to focus on a single time period, geographic unit, or office, rather than holistically examining variation across time, geography, and offices.
In this paper, we describe a new database of election returns from about 78,000 unique candidates in about 57,000 contests in 1,747 cities, counties, and school districts from 1989–2021. Our database is the most comprehensive publicly-available source of information on local elections across the entire country. It includes information about elections for mayors, city councils, county executives, county legislatures, sheriffs, prosecutors, and school boards. It also includes a host of supplemental data, including estimates of candidate partisanship, gender, race/ethnicity, and incumbency status. For many elections, it also includes information on the political characteristics of constituencies, such as their ideology and presidential voting patterns.
This new database will enable scholars to study a wide variety of research questions. It enables examination of whether politicians represent the demographic, partisan, and ideological characteristics of their constituents. It also enables expanded work on the factors that affect local elections. Moreover, it facilitates study of the incumbency advantage across election types, institutional contexts, and candidate
characteristics. Finally, this database enables scholars to expand the study of how elections shape a host of political outcomes such as policy, political communication, interest group activity and intergovernmental lobbying.”
- de Benedictis-Kessner, J., Lee, D.D.I., Velez, Y.R. et al. American local government elections database. Sci Data 10, 912 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41597-023-02792-x
- American Local Government Elections Database
Contributors: Justin de Benedictis-Kessner, Diana Da In Lee, Yamil Velez, Christopher Warshaw
Date created: 2023-04-11 02:17 PM
Identifier: DOI 10.17605/OSF.IO/MV5E6
This is incredibly helpful! The Site JustSecurity, at the Reiss Center on Law and Security at New York University School of Law, has just created the Trump Trials Clearinghouse to track on the large number of criminal and civil cases in which the former president is a defendant. The site includes a calendar as well as court proceedings, key statutes, relevant government documents and correspondence, JustSecurity analysis and more for each pending case. The repository will continue to be updated as events occur.
JustSecurity is “an online forum for the rigorous analysis of security, democracy, foreign policy, and rights.”
Former President Donald Trump is a defendant in a sizable number of criminal and civil cases. To help readers parse through these complex legal developments, we have centralized information on Trump’s major cases in the most comprehensive clearinghouse of its kind. Below you will find links to relevant court proceedings, key statutes, government documents, and defense documents – as well as Just Security resources and analysis, media and other guides.
We will continue updating this page with new information as the trials develop. We hope this repository of information will be useful for analysts, researchers, investigators, journalists, educators, and the public at large.
If you think the Trump Trials Clearinghouse is missing something important, please send recommendations for additional content by email to email@example.com.
Every election cycle, there’s disinformation put out to suppress the vote or turn a percentage point or two against a certain candidate. These efforts are usually done by shady political operatives or outfits so that politicians can have plausible deniability.
But this year is different. This presidential election, the disinformation is coming from within the White House overtly and consistently, as President Trump, his political appointees throughout the executive branch, and his allies scream about widespread mail-in ballot fraud (UNTRUE!), “deep-state” sedition (ALSO UNTRUE!) and advocating martial law if Trump loses the 2020 election (SO VERY DANGEROUS!).
I know many librarians who are putting together voter guides for their communities (check out this one from the Government Documents Round Table (GODORT)). This is a non-partisan way that libraries have always participated and helped their communities to register to vote.
Given that, I thought our readers would be interested in this anecdote from a friend and fellow government information librarian. She, like so many others, has put together a libguide on voting. She was contacted by this innocuous-sounding group called National Council for Safety, Protection and Wellness (NCSPW) (I won’t link to them since that’s exactly what they want, but you can google them) about adding their page on voting for seniors to her guide. Evidently, the group had also reached out to several faculty at her university in an effort to pressure her to add the link.
I did a little digging and found that this is a nasty astroturf group (I did a whois lookup and their domain was registered by “Domains by proxy LLC” rather than a real person or organization) pushing misinformation about voting and especially vote-by-mail and registration. Just for fun, I looked at their seniors’ guide for CA elections. The NCSPW site states that CA’s absentee ballot request deadline is Oct 27. THIS IS FALSE! The CA secretary of state site says that registration must be post-marked Oct 19 but that you can provisionally register on election day. This site is clearly meant to confuse would-be voters, and even worse, is targeted at seniors who may not have the ability to evaluate or check the information against trusted sources.
So, just a word to the wise. Check any voter information site you’re thinking of linking to in your libguide. Only link to sites from trusted organizations like your state’s secretary of state’s office or the League of Women Voters. Don’t take ANY site at face value. Use your librarian information literacy skills to help everyone in your community vote this November.
The Congressional Research Service (CRS) at the Library of Congress is “Congress’ think tank.” Their reports are great resources on a wide variety of issues — don’t forget to look at the footnotes for more context and legislative histories!
Some Congressperson must have been thinking about the ramifications of postponing the November elections due to the COVID-19 pandemic currently sweeping the nation (check out the NCOV2019.live site for frequently updated data from around the world) because CRS published this report just a couple of days ago:
This Sidebar reviews the legal provisions that would constrain any efforts to delay or cancel federal elections during a public health crisis or other national emergency. The first part reviews laws pertaining to presidential elections, and the second part reviews laws relevant to congressional elections.
On a side note, Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the “Vote By Mail Act of 2019” way back in january, 2019 (one of the first bills introduced in the 116th Congress!) and is now pushing a petition to get Congress to expedite the process for the November election. Please sign the petition to get your state’s Senators to co-sponsor this legislation and make it so we don’t need to postpone the November election. Elections are critical to a functioning democracy!
Got a document of the day that you’d like us to highlight? Send us an email at freegovinfo AT gmail DOT com!
Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center, in conjunction with the #StanfordCyberPolicy event held last month, has published a new white paper on the security of US elections entitled “Securing American Elections: Prescriptions for Enhancing the Integrity and Independence of the 2020 U.S. Presidential Elections and Beyond.” Summary: it’s not good.
[HT to Bruce Schneier and his always fascinating/disturbing Crypto-Gram Newsletter. We highly recommend subscribing to the newsletter!]