24 July 2007

Help recover Senate history!

Last Thursday, as the Senate was debating a student loan bill, Republicans and Democrats inserted numerous non-germane amendments. Among them was a particularly controversial amendment proposed by Democratic Senator Ken Salazar of Colorado regarding a potential pardon of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby by President Bush.

No great revelation came of what would have been a non-binding amendment expressing the sense of the Senate. It failed 47-49. What is interesting is that within an hour of the vote, the chamber moved to strike it from official Congressional records.

Although a number of media outlets have reported on this, the missing breakdown remains elusive.

I'll keep searching for it, and if I find it I'll post it. It may even end up a Key Vote at Project Vote Smart. If you're reading this, and you know where to find it, please post a link in a comment!

It's Senate Amendment 2356 to H.R. 2669.

23 July 2007

Confusion on swearing-in dates

I'm doing a project for work at Project Vote Smart that requires the exact dates that senators and representatives took office. Finding the information was surprisingly difficult, and actually somewhat annoying.

After some rifling around on the official House and Senate pages, I found the definitive sources. The house has a biographical search that's pretty handy, and the Senate has a chronological list of everyone who has served (disclaimer: the list is a .pdf that crashed my browser twice). Now I find these pretty handy, but it didn't help my cause much that these analagous lists were organized so differently.

I thought for sure it would be on Congresspedia.org, but it wasn't. Later I added the information to former Rep. J.D. Hayworth's page as an example of where I think it should go.

While I usually defend Wikipedia, it was the worst resource of all for this project. While most sources, including Congress itself, consider senators and representatives to have taken or left office on the days of swearing-in (often January 3), Wikipedia cites the day Congress convenes. Again using the example of Hayworth, compare his official Congressional biography with his Wikipedia entry.

I am reticent to edit that page, because it could end up more of a mess if it loses internal consistency. But I highly recommend adding swearing-in dates to pages on congresspedia.

12 July 2007

Congressional maps at Govtrack.us

You may have noticed that I have added a bunch of new links on the sidebar. I will post a bit about each of them in detail, but I just want to quickly point out that govtrack.us has an amazing interactive map of Congressional districts. It's Google-powered, so it has the familiar Google Maps interface.

There are many resources for finding your elected officials. Congresspedia and the official Web site of the U.S. House have a descent ZIP-to-district searches, but they don't include anything about local officials. The Census Bureau has a very thorough one.

When I made my own ZIP-to-district look-up (I will post the code soon), I linked to Project Vote Smart, because I think they are the best one-stop shop for state, local, and federal information. Of course, I am biased.

11 July 2007

The Voter's Speakeasy

I'm going to make a lot of changes to this blog in the coming days, but Blogspot is moving agonizingly slow today, so this will probably be all I do before tomorrow.

Project Vote Smart has a new official blog called The Voter's Speakeasy. It's an excellent way to stay up-to-date on PVS, and gives additional insight into the work we do.

Full disclosure: I guess I haven't said it in this blog before, but I work in PVS in the Key Votes department.


The Voter's Speakeasy

Welcome back, dear reader

Like several blogs before this one, I started this one enthusiastically, but my inspiration dried up. In fact, I gave up on this one faster than any of its predecessors, because I spent all day using a computer, and this felt more like my job than a diverting hobby.

But I've changed my wanton ways. Over the next few days, weeks, months, years (well...) I will post to this blog again. So keep an eye out!