Hackathon Signals Next Phase for Pew’s Voting Information Project


[Image courtesy of maxoninc]

On Monday, Pew’s Voting Information Project will host a VIPHackathon just outside DC in Arlington, VA.

Here’s the language from the invitation:

For years, high quality information about one of our democracy’s most critical activities has been nearly impossible to come by — that is, until the Voting Information Project (VIP) was born. The Pew Center on the States launched this initiative in 2008 to become the 21st century transmission line between election offices and voters. VIP answers voters’ most common questions — things like “where do I vote?”, “who is on my ballot?”, and “how do I navigate the voting process?” — by making official information available in the places where voters are looking for it, whether online or on their mobile devices. [Just as a reminder, here’s Pew’s official video about VIP.]

Now, in this hot-button election year, Pew and their partners at Microsoft, Google, and AT&T are inviting you to roll up your sleeves and help make a difference. On April 30, 2012, join Pew, Microsoft, the Sunlight Foundation, and many others as we unleash the potential of this amazing and timely collection of civic data.

What tools do you need to be a better citizen? What app would get your friends out to the voting booth? What data would benefit your local board of elections? Come mash, hack, and mindmeld with other civic hackers and problem-solve these and other exciting questions.

I’m really excited about the Hackathon. Of course, I’m looking forward to seeing the cool and exciting things that the attendees (over 100 at last count!) will make, but also because it signals that VIP has reached a new stage. Instead of convincing election offices to provide data – which has been Job One for VIP for a number of years – there is now enough data to unleash the creative talents of programmers and designers to invent the things we didn’t know voters couldn’t live without.

The fundamental, voter-centered data that is the lifeblood of VIP is going to be absolutely vital to what is likely to be well over 100 million American voters this fall. VIP has built the stage; I can’t wait to see what the talent – starting next week at the Hackathon and continuing thereafter – produces for voters nationwide.

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