Ida B. Wells Society/OpenElections Summer Program
Mid-June – Mid-August – 8 weeks
Ida B. Wells Society and OpenElections are looking for up to 6 HBCU students to help obtain precinct-level election results and convert them into data. OpenElections is a non-profit volunteer project with the goal of creating a freely-available collection of precinct-level election results from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. More details on what we do are at https://docs.openelections.net/ and all of our work is available at https://github.com/openelections.
We are looking for students interested in developing skills in the following areas:
- Making public records requests. We obtain official election results through formal and informal requests to state and county officials. Students would gain experience in contacting election officials, making requests, and evaluating responses. As part of that process, we’ll ask students to document their efforts and will publish them on openelections.net and promote their work on our Twitter feed, giving credit to the Ida B. Wells Society and using its branding where possible. That could mean written materials or videos (we have a YouTube channel as well).
- Converting results documents into data. Often we receive election results as PDFs or other electronic files that need to be parsed or organized into spreadsheets. Students will learn about working with data in Google Sheets, parsing PDFs using Tabula, and other techniques. There is no equipment necessary except a computer with Internet access and no software to purchase. We try to use freely available tools.
- Using version control software to keep track of documents, data, and issues. We use Git and GitHub, both of which are free, and we’ll introduce students to those tools so that they can learn how they can help organize and maintain collections of information. No coding experience is required, but students should feel comfortable installing things on their computers.
- Finding stories in data. Given the interest of the students, we can provide feedback on ideas for using election results data to find stories. This could be done through weekly check-ins with the students.
Here’s what OpenElections and the Ida B. Wells Society will provide:
- Public announcements on the work, co-branded with IBW.
- Weekly video check-ins, skills training, and feedback via those, email, and Slack.
- A regular schedule of tasks. We’ll work to tailor them to each student’s interests and familiarity.
- $2,000 per student as a stipend.