While Azavea works on all manner of software projects that use geographic data, there are a few areas where we spend more time than others. Elections and politics is one of these focus areas. Our elections-related work includes the Cicero API, RedistrictingTheNation, the open source DistrictBuilder redistricting software, and our recent work on the impact of the new Voter ID law in Pennsylvania.
Democracy is not inevitable or a given; it must be sustained and strengthened by each generation. Today, American democracy is challenged by unlimited political contributions, polarized legislatures, gerrymandered districts and opaque processes. But efforts such as the Voting Information Project, open government data repositories, online voting, ParliamentWatch and TheyWorkForYou have demonstrated that technology can make an important contribution toward improving democratic institutions.
This fall is going to be a hard-fought election in the United States. In addition to electing a president, most state legislatures will be selected using new district boundaries and many local officials will have to submit their qualifications to their constituents. In anticipation of this touchstone event of democracy, Azavea will be organizing a hackathon focused on elections, politics and open democratic processes. We’re calling it Hacks for Democracy, and we’re pretty excited about it.
How can you participate
Do you have an idea for an app that will improve this fall’s election? What tools do we need to improve citizen engagement? Is there an app that would get your friends to the voting booth in November? What app might help mitigate the impact of voter ID laws? What data would make your local city council and board of elections more transparent? Join civic hackers, election officials, journalists, data analysts and designers to make progress on these and other questions related to elections and politics.
The hackathon will begin with a brainstorming session on Friday, Sept 14, before the main hacking event over the weekend. But we are also going to encourage the continued development of the projects that emerge from the weekend hackathon event by hosting a series of follow-up events, culminating in a second round of judging on October 5, one month before the general election. None of the follow-up events are required, but we’re encouraging teams to continue developing what they start over the weekend.
Oh, and there will be prizes. We’ll crown the best projects from the weekend on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept 16, but then we’ll have a second round of judging and prizes three weeks later, for applications that have been rolled out or are most improved since the hackathon.
Here’s the full schedule:
- Fri, Sept 14, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, API and Project Idea Presentations, Azavea, 340 N 12th St, Suite 402
- Sat, Sept 15, 9am – 5pm, Hackathon, Venturef0rth, 417 N 8th St, 2nd fl, Philadelphia, PA 19123
- Sun, Sept 16, 9am – 5pm, Hackathon, Venturef0rth, 417 N 8th St, 2nd fl, Philadelphia, PA 19123
- Mon, Sept 17, 6pm – 9pm, Hack evening, Azavea, 340 N 12th St, Suite 402
- Mon, Sept 24, 6pm – 9pm, Hack evening, Azavea, 340 N 12th St, Suite 402
- Mon, Oct 1, 6pm – 9pm, Hack evening, Azavea, 340 N 12th St, Suite 402
- Fri, Oct 5, 6:30pm – 8:30pm, Final Judging and Awards, Azavea, 340 N 12th St, Suite 402
We are encouraging both existing and new projects. The only criterion are:
- Projects should be related to elections, democracy and politics
- The work be made available under an open source license so that others can use it, remix it and mash it up.
Got an idea or existing project for the event? Write up a paragraph at the HackerLeague page.
Want to participate? Register
Finally, I want to acknowledge the generous support of our sponsors:
- Knight-Mozilla OpenNews project