Imagine you’ve recently moved to a new neighborhood. You’ve registered to vote, but you are unsure of your polling place location. Or you would like to see who is on the ballot before you vote. Elections in the United States are managed by states, counties and municipalities. As a consequence of this decentralized approach, there are few standards for information sharing across the 50 states. The Voting Information Project (VIP), a partnership between The Pew Charitable Trusts and Google, was developed to support sharing and publication of election data by local and state agencies in a standardized way.
In order to support distribution of election data on smart phones and tablets, Azavea is working with the Voting Information Project to develop an application that can be used by any local or state elections commission in the U.S. to publish their own application for smart phones and tablets. The new app presents data from the Google Civic Information API, a Google product that provides developers with easy access to the official VIP data. Users of the app can access important information about upcoming elections, including contests and referendums, candidate details, and polling place locations.
This new app is what’s known as a “white label” application. It will not be available directly in the iTunes store. Rather, each agency will be able to adapt the application and quickly develop a version customized for their location. This initial version if focused on the iOS (iPhone and iPad) platform and is released under an open source license on GitHub. It is designed so that local governments and organizations can easily customize, build, and publish the app without extensive iOS development experience. We had someone completely unfamiliar with Xcode (me) test it, and a minimally customized version was up and running in about 30 minutes.
We are in the final stages of development and will be putting together documentation and a setup webinar to make sure deployment is as easy as possible.
One of the developers working on the project, Andrew Fink, attended and presented the app at a VIP hackathon held in San Francisco in March. He reported lots of excitement over the app, compliments on the design, and anticipation for its deployment.