A few weeks ago I sketched out what I thought the data table design should be for seidahovotes. The design was at a pretty high level based around what kinds of things I wanted the website to be able to do:
- Show for a particular jurisdiction or entity (such as a city or a county or a school district) all of the elected offices, the current incumbent, and what the term of office is.
- Show for a particular jurisdiction upcoming elections and the offices and issues that will be contested along with the candidates for office.
- For an upcoming election, show information about the candidates and issues and allow public comment on the candidates and issues.
- Provide a candidate for office who doesn’t have a web presence the ability to have a rich web page on this site.
- Show the results of past elections.
With those objectives in mind, I’m now on the third iteration of the database … which currently exists on paper and in my Macbook development environment. After version two was sketched out, I decided to assemble all of the data for one political jurisdiction to satisfy objective #1 above.
I settled on the City of Pocatello as the initial entity to gather the data about. That has been a very interesting task and gathering all of the data has proven to be difficult.
The City of Pocatello has seven elected offices: the mayor and six council members. Names and addresses were easily obtained from the city’s website. However, what is their term of office? No online information available. That’ll require either a visit to City Hall or a phone call.
Pocatello is part of Bannock County which has nine elected officials (specified by the Constitution of the State of Idaho, I’ve learned). The County website has names, addresses, and contact information for these people, but again term of office is not available online. Further, the County Commissioners, again by constitutional decree, serve alternating four-year and two-year terms of office. I need to find out who is in which term length and what the ongoing rotation schedule is.
Pocatello is part of the State of Idaho Legislative District 30 with one senator and two representatives. The State of Idaho website provides their name, address, and contact information (scattered in several places). The constitution describes their term of office. That information is now pretty much complete.
Pocatello is part of the State of Idaho Judicial District Six with four District Judges and Five Magistrate Judges. These judges are appointed and stand for re-election after they have served for a period of time.
Pocatello is also part of the State of Idaho with a governor and six other elected officials.
Pocatello is also part of the Federal House of Representative District 2 with a representative in Congress.
The State of Idaho has two Senators, both of whom represent Pocatello and have regional offices in Pocatello.
Finally, there’s the President and Vice President of the United States.
I still have a little bit of data to accumulate, but what I have for the City of Pocatello currently requires fifteen pages to print out (pdf available here)!
My goal is to cover seven counties and all their cities and school districts in southeastern Idaho. I’m beginning to realize this is a big task. Most of the entities do not have much, if any, information online.
Gathering the data for Pocatello has caused me to revise the database and I’m now working on version 3. I’ve decided that I probably need to gather all of the data for another political entity, one that doesn’t have an online presence, as verification that the design will work. Some questions still I need to answer include:
- What is the definitive list of political jurisdictions? For instance, what cities are in the region? There’s a place in Caribou County called Niter. I think it used to be a city, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t anymore.
- The elected offices in a county are established by the Idaho constitution. Where is the definition of the elected offices that a city may have?
- I haven’t even begun looking at school districts. What is the political hierarchy for school districts? Do they all report directly to the State Department of Education?
There’s still a lot of data gathering to be done before I can finalize the database design to satisfy objective #1. Then maybe I can start on objective #2.
This is fun!