Electionland is a project to track and cover voting problems during the 2016 election, across the country and in real-time. The need to cover the vote is particularly urgent this election cycle, as states have passed laws that could affect citizens’ access to the ballot box, and one of the presidential candidates has cast doubt on the validity of the system.
How You Can Participate
Are you seeing long lines? Machine breakdowns? Intimidation? People who aren’t allowed to vote? We want to hear about anything that jeopardizes an orderly and fair election.
Here’s how voters can tell us about their experience at the polls:
Para quienes hablen español nuestro número de WhatsApp es 917-331-4989 o envia un mensaje de texto al numero 69866 con la palabra ELECCIÓN.
Read our coverage
We’re already covering the election and ballot access. When we launched, we wrote about what we have been looking for.
Since then, we’ve written about long lines in Charlotte, confusing Voter ID laws in Texas, debunked claims of ballot fraud like this one from TMZ, and we’ve tracked court cases challenging state election laws.
How it works
We have created a pop-up newsroom staffed by about 700 journalists and journalism students. It will find and authenticate social media posts, and sift through Google Trends data, SMS and WhatsApp messages, and reports from the national nonpartisan election monitoring group Election Protection. The newsroom will write stories and pass story leads to hundreds of local reporters.
Those reporters — numbering about 400 from more than 250 news organizations — will get real-time alerts about problems happening at polling locations in their coverage areas. Tips will be shared as they occur so that coverage and action can happen before the polls close.
Voting rules have changed dramatically since the last time America elected a president. Since 2012, states across the country have enacted hundreds of new election laws, introducing new rules (or changing existing ones) about who can vote, as well as where, when, and how. Some 15 states will have new restrictions that have never been in place during a presidential election.
Nobody knows for sure how voting will go, leaving an urgent need to cover more than just the results. No single newsroom is in a good position to cover this nationally in real time. Electionland hopes to empower newsrooms across the country to cover voting problems more quickly and more deeply than has ever been attempted.
And with repeated concerns about rigged polls and cries for poll watchers from one of the presidential nominees, it’s even more critical that we leave the horse race to others this year and focus instead on ways in which problems prevent people from exercising their right to vote.
Who can sign up?
Electionland is open to reporters who plan to cover the election for local news outlets in the United States. TV, radio, online and print reporters are all welcome to sign up. Freelancers need to have a well-read local outlet where their stories can appear.
What do participants get?
- Real-time alerts about problems happening at polling locations in your coverage area, including long lines, machine breakdowns, an uptick in provisional balloting, ballot confusion, fraudulent voting and more.
- Inclusion and promotion of your election stories on social media and the Electionland liveblog.
- Customizable alerts for real-time data about the candidates and races you care about, drawing on federal campaign finance data, congressional voting data, trending searches, and more.
- Reporting recipes, tip sheets, and community calls.
What are participants expected to do?
As a participating partner organization, you’ll provide us with the contact information of the reporter assigned to cover voting problems during the election, as well as the assigning editor with election responsibilities. If your state has in-person early voting, we need good contacts for all of early voting, not just on Nov. 8. We’ll send solid leads for you to follow up on and report. When you follow up, you agree to send us a URL when you’ve published.
You’ll credit “ProPublica’s Electionland Project” as the source of your tip and link that credit to propublica.org/electionland.
What if I’m not interested in a story, or it doesn’t pan out?
We will put great effort into ensuring that you are sent only goods stories that you’ll want to pursue. We won’t send your team on frivolous reporting errands to cover the polls. But if you decide that a lead isn’t newsworthy, just let us know you’re passing on it. But we reserve the right to follow up on a lead ourselves or to give it to somebody else.
If you follow up and find nothing, let us know. We’ll use that to improve future tips.
In what format should my stories be filed?
You decide how to pursue tips, using whatever resources you determine are needed.
What will happen to my stories after they are published?
We will tweet and promote your work. Your stories are published on your site.
What kind of data/signals are you using?
Right now the list includes data from Twitter and Facebook, Google Search Trends data, as well as real-time data from Election Protection, a project of the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which receives calls from voters around the country about voting issues.
We also plan to recruit citizen journalists around the country who will report wait times at their polling places.
Can I get access to reports about all of the hotspots nationally?
We aren’t giving out bulk or nationwide access to the story leads. We’re focussing on building relationships with local journalists, because that’s where we believe the stories are best reported and where there can be real impact while the polls are still open. Our website, propublica.org/electionland, will be the best place to get a national picture of the state of the election.
What does it cost?