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Mining the voter registration data base

Page history last edited by Tom Johnson 11 years, 11 months ago

Conversations from a journalism listserv: Voter Data

7 messages


Andy Pierrotti <APierrotti@wspa.com> Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 8:15 AM
Reply-To: Discussion Forum <NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu>
To: NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu

Hello,

I’m looking for some story ideas that use voter registration data.

 

I recently attempted to find dead registered voters, after I obtained my state’s entire voter registration database. It lists names of voters, address, county they live in, DOB, the last time they voted, and much more information. To make a long story short, we only found one dead person on the database’s active registered voter roll.  As far as we can tell, the state’s election commission is doing a pretty good job.

 

While we got the database for free, I know campaigns spend up to $3,000 for the same information to target voters who voted in the last primaries.

 

Anyone got any story ideas using voter registration data. I have this great database, but I don’t know what to do with it.

 

 

Thanks,

 

Andy Pierrotti

WSPA-TV, CBS 7

apierrotti@wspa.com

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sandra fish <sandrafish@comcast.net> Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 8:26 AM
Reply-To: Discussion Forum <NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu>
To: NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu
here are a few:
 
Demographic analysis - age, sex, party differences in various counties, cities, congressional districts
 
Candidate's voting records - check out when your candidates registered, when they declared a party affiliation and whether they've voted in the past. i once found a libertarian running for governor who'd NEVER registered or voted until he announced his candidacy. and a congressional primary candidate who'd never voted in a primary.
 
Third parties - is there a story there in your state? In Colorado, Greens and Libertarians had pretty good numbers in 2000 and 2002, but they've really declined in the last two elections.
 


From: Discussion Forum [mailto:NICAR-L@PO.MISSOURI.EDU] On Behalf Of Andy Pierrotti
Sent: Friday, September 05, 2008 8:15 AM
To: NICAR-L@PO.MISSOURI.EDU
Subject: [NICAR-L] Voter Data
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Orr, Steve <sorr@democratandchronicle.com> Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 8:32 AM
Reply-To: Discussion Forum <NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu>
To: NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu

It’s an old chestnut, but if your database, like the one here, contains a record of whether each voter actually voted in past elections, you can look up folks running for public office and see if they bothered to vote in the past. You almost surely will find some who didn’t.

 

Steve Orr

Democrat and Chronicle

Rochester, NY

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Schneider, Doug <DSCHNEID@binghamt.gannett.com> Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 9:24 AM
Reply-To: Discussion Forum <NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu>
To: NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu

You can map districts – be they congressional or local – to show enrollment, or past turnout, then run that past local political experts to give audiences an idea of what’s going to happen in a particular race.

 

You can cut for all kinds of demographics – age, gender, etc.

 

You can put a database on your site so that viewers can look up which district they live in – useful with county legislature issues, congress, etc.

 

Also, make the database accessible across your newsroom intranet and you have the greatest local phonebook/cris-cross directory imaginable:

·         Cops and others who’d never list their home phone numbers anywhere else list them here. And if they don’t, their spouses and/or kids do.

·         It’s a great way to find neighbors when you have breaking news on deadline. We were able to locate eyewitnesses to a small plane crash last year using voter reg.

 

It’s also great for finding good “real people” sources for election stories – instead of going to the mall and asking “do you plan to vote this year,” you can pre-identify people in different parties, towns, etc. who vote EVERY election.

 

--DS

 

 


From: Discussion Forum [mailto:NICAR-L@PO.MISSOURI.EDU] On Behalf Of Andy Pierrotti
Sent: Friday, September 05, 2008 10:15 AM
To: NICAR-L@PO.MISSOURI.EDU
Subject: [NICAR-L] Voter Data

 

Hello,

[Quoted text hidden]
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Ron Campbell <rcampbell@ocregister.com> Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 10:44 AM
Reply-To: Discussion Forum <NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu>
To: NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu
In addition to Sandra and Steve's suggestions, the voter reg database makes
a great in-house resource for tracking down addresses and phone numbers.
Many people with unlisted phone numbers put those same numbers on the voter
reg forms. Go figure.

Re Sandra and Steve's suggestion to look up politicians' voting history:
Don't overlook big names; once in a while you can catch a big fish with a
spotty or nonexistent voting history.

Here in California in 1982, Mike Curb, the lieutenant governor and former
music industry biggie, was leading the Republican primary for governor. But
just a few weeks before the primary a reporter looked up Curb's voting
history. Turns out the guy wasn't even registered to vote until a year or
two before he was elected lieutenant governor. This self-styled Reagan
Republican was a no-show when Reagan was running for governor in the '60s.
Curb lost the primary, and his primary opponent went on to win the
governorship.

Ronald Campbell
The Orange County Register
714/796-5030
cell 714/932-2074
fax 714/796-3681



            Andy Pierrotti
            <APierrotti@WSPA.
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            Sent by:                  NICAR-L@PO.MISSOURI.EDU
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            URI.EDU>                                              Subject
                                      [NICAR-L] Voter Data

            09/05/2008 07:15
            AM


            Please respond to
            Discussion Forum
            <NICAR-L@PO.MISSO
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sandra fish <sandrafish@comcast.net> Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 11:07 AM
Reply-To: Discussion Forum <NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu>
To: NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu
let me add the features ideas:
one-name wonders - search for nulls in first or last name and find the folks
who only have one name (ok in Boulder, Colo., this is a great story -
there's a woman named You, among others in this category)

presidents day - a reporter once looked up people (and also dogs) with names
of presidents for a great feature for that day!
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Parker, Paul <pparker@projo.com> Fri, Sep 5, 2008 at 2:47 PM
Reply-To: Discussion Forum <NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu>
To: NICAR-L@po.missouri.edu
You can use it for a variation on the most popular baby name/most popular dog name stories and see what are the most popular first names for registered voters in your state. You can, of course, slice it by gender, but also look to slice it by age groups or people born before or after some past event. Slice it by political party.

Same stuff for last names. We found our Top 10 Republican last names were all very WASPy sounding, while the Democrats were about eight Hispanic names and two Irish names.

We did a cute Election Day preview story one year by finding an individual who matched half a dozen or so demographic criteria for the statewide average (mean or mode, as applicable) and interviewing her as Rhode Island's most average voter.

Similarly, we tallied up how many people shared the last names of various candidates in statewide races and interviewed some of them.

Interview the oldest registered voters about the changes they've seen in the body politic over the decades.

You can use it throughout the year to do feature stories about people born on certain dates. Does it suck being born on Christmas? What do you do in non-Leap Years if you're born on Feb. 29. How about what present people born on Election Day are hoping for this year?

With a little work, you can find twins.

You can find people with the same names living in the same areas and see whether they have amusing anecdotes, especially if their names are unusual.

You can find spouses split by party affiliation, children who register differently than their parents.

You can do demographic analysis of the people who registered to vote within the last year/six months/month and then interview them about what motivated them.

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