Maplight technology, data, webtools

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NPDEV Maplight Session Notes

  • Maplight tracks the influence of money in politics.
  • Takes public campaign finance data and analyzes/presents how it influnces politics.
  • KY Senate race - $12 million each side spent in 2014, more money was spent than ever,but # of donors decreased
  • Where maplight data comes from: FEC, state-level data, local-level data
  • Difficulties: integration of multiple data sources & cleaning up messy data

  • Where does data come from:
    • - massive flatfile downloads that need a *lot* of cleanup/processing/deduplication
    • Challenge is to match up the data to present an accurate view, and at the same time find examples of funny business
    • Another challenge is figuring out who donated to who - that data is messy
    • Name mispellings, company relationships, pac details
    • Problems with relying on external data sources that may go down, format may change, etc.
    • Have developed an internal crowd-sourcing tool to deal with these issues
  • FEC standardizer tool


  • Direct communication with journalists, etc.
  • Website tools
  • Legislation: -
  • Supporters/opposers list, contributions, map, timeline
  • Voter Information: -
  • Presents voter guides augmented with contribution info
  • Embeddable widgets
  • Dealing with the traffic for votersedge was very hard - the maplightfolks did an unfathomable amount of work to put together a spectacular tool!