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Opening Afghanistan's Election Data: An Open Source Data Browser

Submitted by Development Seed on Thu, 12/17/2009 - 17:48.

Managing News as a rich data browser for monitoring and evaluation

This morning the National Democratic Institute opened up their Afghanistan election data browser to the public. This is a massive liberalization of election data that previously had been baked into PDFs. The tool allows users to browse the raw vote count from the recent election on a national view and quickly drill down to a provincial, district, and even polling center view - showing the number of votes all the way down to the ballot box. Users can run custom queries to see the number of votes per voting station and the percentage for a single candidate, and see the results on custom maps of Afghanistan that have additional data overlays like ethnic and security data. All of these voting trends are then graphed down to the polling center level.

Here is a look at front page of the data browser. The map shows polling stations that received 600 or more votes, which is a critical number because it represents that 100% of possible ballots were cast. In an election with very low overall participation, this number shows a clear outlier.

This data browser was used internally throughout the fall by NDI's team and its partners on the ground in Kabul and Washington, DC to visualize voting irregularities from Afghanistan's presidential election in August. While the election is long over, the site now takes on new public value as preparation begins in Afghanistan for next year's provincial council (Wolesi Jirga) elections.

Below is a walk through of the site's key functionality. The data browser was built completely with open source tools, including Managing News, a pluggable data aggregator built on top of Drupal, and all the maps were generated by MapBox, our open source mapping stack. The site was also built entirely with open data and is a real life example of what can be done under the U.S. ‘Open Government Directive.’

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