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Long Term Goal: Districts App

29 Nov 2015

I've long wanted to make an app that makes election and civic data available both based on location and as state or national statistics. It could potentially help voters find their local election information; where to vote, how to register, what local offices are up for grabs, etc, etc. It could also identify warning signs of gerrymandering, unopposed candidacies, warning signs of political parties and candidates apathy toward constituents' interests, and similar valuable data services. Where are the worst problem areas? What places do things well?

The fundamental mechanic of this app is easily navigable maps displaying jurisdiction borders individually and collectively. Something that works as an add-on to Google Maps might be a good basis for it. But whatever the means, I need lots of map data. Luckily, state governments are already keeping records of their county, US congressional, state congressional, school board, municipal, and other district borders. I just have to collect them from all 50 states (and possibly DC and the territories).

To that end, I've started collecting a list of all of the states' official Geographic Information System (GIS) data as presented in their various Data Clearinghouses. Googling for "gis [state's name]" usually finds them quickly, but there are still a lot of them left to find. If you want to help, I'd appreciate it. That spreadsheet should be editable by anyone with the link.

The next step after that will be to learn how to display that GIS data as a navigable map on a website. Then it's all tools and settings of what to do with that info. Maybe I'll even make some games; name the states and their capitals, name your representatives, stuff like that. There'll be a lot of study and work on my side before this actually becomes an app, but it's been a dream of mine for a long time. I'll keep picking away at the problem until I get through.

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Greetings and Salutations

28 Nov 2015

I'm intending to write a blog engine and use it to put a blog here. I'll talk about both the software development part, and about civics and politics (the intended topic of my blog). So far, it's got essentially nothing, but I'm using the long Thanksgiving holiday to get started.

I do a lot of politics research as a hobby, and the primary purpose of this blog will be to have a permanent place to host that stuff. Gerrymandering, the NRA's funding, and the pros and cons of various voting systems will be among the topics addressed. Stay tuned!