Engineering better tools for voters – Guest post by Matthew Morse, Senior Associate, Pew Center on the States

Next Monday, April 30, civic-minded coders will join forces near Washington, D.C., to build new applications that help voters get the information they need on Election Day. The event, co-sponsored by the Pew Center on the States, The Sunlight Foundation, and Microsoft will focus on the tools and data provided by the Voting Information Project (VIP), which answers common questions including “Where is my polling place?” “Who is on my ballot?” and “How do I navigate the voting process?”

Even in today’s world of instant search, mobile banking, and social networking, this information has traditionally been difficult for voters to find, often requiring calls to election offices or trips in person to obtain basic information. But through the Voting Information Project (VIP), Pew’s team of policy experts, together with election officials and computer engineers, has been working full time for several years to set this data free from computer databases dispersed across state capitals and county seats.

These efforts have paid off, and we are happy to join our partners in helping states make the most of the latest technologies to help voters by leveraging the innovative efforts of private sector technology experts. Since its inception in 2008, VIP has helped well over 10 million voters navigate the voting process. See our video for more details on how the project works.

Click here to watch the video

Compiling data is only half the fun. Now, through events like this forum, we are equipping developers to use our data in new, creative ways and to combine it with other information for data mashups on cloud platforms. These tools could answer questions like – “What tools can help me be a better citizen?” “What app would get my friends out to the voting booth?” and “What data would benefit my local board of elections?” We could not be more excited to see the outcome of these efforts and how they may provide voters with new, valuable resources come Election Day.

Register for the event or visit our website and learn more. We hope to see you there!

Matthew Morse is a senior associate at the Pew Center on the States and manages the Voting Information Project.

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