This project was inspired by a paper published in the American Political Science Review by Alan S. Gerber, Donald P. Green and Christopher W. Larimer. The paper is about a study that found that mailing neighborhood voting data to individuals in a community significantly increases voter turnout (around 8%). We sought to apply this effect to the real world.
What it does
NeighborVote allows a user to search for their Connecticut address and then produces a printable letter containing the recent voting history of neighbors with nearby addresses.
How we built it
We found the data available to the public online and cleaned it up for our purposes. We used Firebase to host a web app made with React and Node.js. We used Firebase's Firestore database system to store the voter data and the Google maps API for location data.
Challenges we ran into
We had difficulties getting our data into the Firebase system. One of our attempts would have taken 300 days; another put us at 10x our daily read/write limit; another crashed our computers unless we used the lightest of text editors. We were not able to use our full data set while limited by the free data quota.
Accomplishments that we're proud of
We are proud to be able to help people around us better participate in our democracy.
What we learned
We learned that we shouldn't get too attached to the tech we choose at the beginning of the project--sometimes it is best to scrap an idea and try something else. We also learned a lot about the languages and APIs we used.
What's next for NeighborVote
Currently, NeighborVote works for a significant amount of Connecticut voters. This will soon be expanded to the other states where voter information is public, including California, Florida, and Georgia.
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