Code for Philly's DemHacks 2016

March 20, 2016
Code for Philly held a hackathon over the weekend under the theme "Hacks for Democracy." Although my original project did not pan out over the weekend there was a lot of good brainstorming and ideas that I would love to carry over through the summer. Plenty of great ideas did coalesce over the weekend that looked pretty interesting.

One of my favorite projects was Jail Jawn.  This project takes some pretty horribly formatted information from Philadelphia's Prison's daily census and displays the data in charts and graphs that can actually be used to look at the data and try to interpret it.  One of the biggest results from this project is it showed how rarely the data is updated, and hopefully will lead to better updates and knowledge from being able to see this data.

Within the last 20 minutes of the event I overhead the group next to me talking about their project, which was exactly the same as something I had looked into a couple of years ago involving voter turnout. Their project, , Elect Me, looks at the easiest possible political positions that you could be elected to.

Elect Me ranks your best possible options based on the following factors:

1.  Does it pay?

Some jobs such as election judge, pay $95 for the one day of the year that you actually have to serve in the postion.

2.  Ballot filing fee.

Many are free to get your name on the ballot.

3. Least number of votes required.

Some only require a single, yeah just ONE, write-in vote.That's it and you can be elected to something!

In 2014 I briefly looked into the elections for Ward Committee Persons and posted here about it (ugh, those were some ugly maps I made). These are elected officials for each party, that are voted within very small geographic boundaries, Ward Subdivisions.

In many of these wards, committee people were elected via write-in in 2014, with a large number winning the election with a TOTAL of only 1 to 3 votes.

Committee people vote for ward leaders, who are in charge of get out the vote campaigns for general elections.  They also receive any street money distributed by the part for such events.  In addition to this role, ward leaders also pick which candidates from their party, such as judges, will go on the ballot.  Sooooo the committee doesn't directly do any of this, but for a single write in vote you might get invited to the big boys table to vote for whoever does.

Committee people might do other stuff. Who knows.

Within the last few minutes of the hackathon I quickly threw some of the elections data that I had together and shared the following maps through CartoDB for the Elect Me project:

Philadelphia Ward Committee Elected Write-Ins 2014

Philadelphia Ward Committee Total Votes 2014

If you want to get involved and help out with any of the projects I mentioned, or have an idea of one of your own show up any Tuesday at one of Code for Philly's meetup events.  Half the people are computer nerds who need ideas, and the other half are normal people with great ideas, that need computer nerds to help them make it happen. Check them out