Three Thousand Two Hundred and Nineteen - Digitizing 2014 Campaign Donations

Kevin O'Donnell
2015-04-08 09:55

Three Thousand Two Hundred and Nineteen. That's how many donations individudals, corporations and unions made to candidate in Ottawa's 2014 municipal election. Now I need your help to get them fully digitized so we can fully scrutinize election financing in Ottawa.

As of 2015-04-08, eighteen candidates have not filed their financial returns (or the City of Ottawa has not yet published them online). The published data covers 88% of candidates and includes all of the winners. The remaining 12% of candidates ran small campaigns and are unlikely to tip the overall results from a absolute numbers point of view. Many likely accepted no donations at all.

How You Can Help

Candidates submit paper copies of their finances to the City of Ottawa, who then scans and uploads them to the web. OttWatch then scans those PDFs and marks each individual donation (yes - I clicked on each donation by hand). But the really hard part is reading each donation and entering the data.

This is where you come in. It takes about 10 to 20 seconds to read each individual donation, enter the name, address and amount, then click save. If you have 5 minutes to spare, you can help digitize 15 to 30 donations. 

Get started by visiting http://ottwatch.ca/election/processDonation/

If you want, you can use the "login" link and OttWatch will keep track of your individual efforts. There's a scoreboard. Or you can stay anonymous. The scoreboard is purely for fun.

Then What?

After all you beautiful volunteers have helped me with the labour intensive part, I augument the data in several ways:

  • Using the address, add latitude/longitude data.
  • Categorize the donations as either individual or from corporate/unions.
  • Offer a JSON or CSV download right away. The data doesn't stay locked in OttWatch. As soon as you help the community create the data, it's given right back.

When we did this in 2010 the entire database was digitized in a few days.

It would be great if that happened again!

 

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