Cookbook

Elections data varies widely between different states and between elections in the same state. As a result, it’s not always obvious how to represent this data with the OpenElections models or how to organize code in a state module as it becomes more complex. This documentation provides some examples of potentially confusing situations and stategies to addres them.

Loading data

Multiple loader classes

In an ideal world, all results files for a state would have the same structure, or have small enough variations to implement loader classes with a minimum amount of branching. In reality, you’ll probably need to implement multiple loader classes corresponding to the different file types or structures. However our API defines a single entry point for loading, a LoadResults class. You can make LoadResults.run() delegate to other loader classes based on values in the mapping.

class LoadResults(object):
    """Entry point for data loading.

    Determines appropriate loader for file and triggers load process.

    """

    def run(self, mapping):
        election_id = mapping['election']
        if '2002' in election_id:
            loader = MDLoader2002()
        elif '2000' in election_id and 'primary' in election_id:
            loader = MDLoader2000Primary()
        elif '2008' in election_id and 'special' in election_id:
            loader = MDLoader2008Special()
        else:
            loader = MDLoader()
        loader.run(mapping)

Pseudo-jurisdictions

Consider these rows from a precinct-level results file for Iowa’s Adair County:

Race County Precinct ROXANNE CONLIN THOMAS L. FIEGEN BOB KRAUSE WRITE-IN Over Votes Under Votes Precinct Totals Final Data?
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 1 NW 30.0 6.0 4.0     1.0 41.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 2 NE 24.0 4.0 4.0     1.0 33.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 3 SW 28.0 5.0 4.0     1.0 38.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 4 SE 10.0 1.0       1.0 12.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 5 GF 24.0 1.0 5.0     3.0 33.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair ABSENTEE 16.0   8.0   1.0 1.0 26.0 Y
Grand Totals     132.0 17.0 25.0   1.0 8.0 183.0  

Since this is a precinct-level file, RawResult records created from these rows will have a reporting_level value of precinct. However, there is a row where the Precinct column has a value of “ABSENTEE”. This means that absentee votes from all the precincts in the county have been aggregated together.

For rows like this:

  • Create RawResult instances and set the reporting_level field to county.
  • Set the jurisdiction field to Adair.
  • Set the votes_type field to absentee.

Multiple reporting levels in one file

Consider these rows from a precinct-level results file for Iowa’s Adair County:

Race County Precinct ROXANNE CONLIN THOMAS L. FIEGEN BOB KRAUSE WRITE-IN Over Votes Under Votes Precinct Totals Final Data?
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 1 NW 30.0 6.0 4.0     1.0 41.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 2 NE 24.0 4.0 4.0     1.0 33.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 3 SW 28.0 5.0 4.0     1.0 38.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 4 SE 10.0 1.0       1.0 12.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 5 GF 24.0 1.0 5.0     3.0 33.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair ABSENTEE 16.0   8.0   1.0 1.0 26.0 Y
Grand Totals     132.0 17.0 25.0   1.0 8.0 183.0  

Most rows will result in RawResult records with a reporting_level field set to precinct. However, this result file also includes county-level totals for each race, as designated by the row with “Grand Totals” in the Race column.

For rows like this:

  • Create RawResult instances and set the reporting_level to county.
  • Set the jurisdiction field to Adair.

Pseudo-candidates

Consider these rows from a precinct-level results file for Iowa’s Adair County:

Race County Precinct ROXANNE CONLIN THOMAS L. FIEGEN BOB KRAUSE WRITE-IN Over Votes Under Votes Precinct Totals Final Data?
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 1 NW 30.0 6.0 4.0     1.0 41.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 2 NE 24.0 4.0 4.0     1.0 33.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 3 SW 28.0 5.0 4.0     1.0 38.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 4 SE 10.0 1.0       1.0 12.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair 5 GF 24.0 1.0 5.0     3.0 33.0 Y
U.S. SENATOR - DEMOCRATIC PARTY Adair ABSENTEE 16.0   8.0   1.0 1.0 26.0 Y
Grand Totals     132.0 17.0 25.0   1.0 8.0 183.0  

Candidates names are represented as columns, so for each row, you will create a RawResult record for each candidate. There are also columns for over votes, under votes, all write-in candidates and the total votes for all candidates in a county. Create RawResult instances for each of these columns and put the column name, (e.g. “WRITE_IN”) in the full_name field.

In your transforms where you create clean Candidate records, set the flags field to specify that the candidate isn’t a person and instead represents over votes, under votes or votes for all write-in candidates.

Vote breakdowns in columns

Consider these rows from a precinct-level results file from Iowa’s Lee County:

Precinct Race Candidate Election Day Absentee Total Votes
FM1 U S SENATOR Roxanne Conlin 109.0 115.0 224.0
FM1 U S SENATOR Chuck Grassley 167.0 93.0 260.0
FM1 U S SENATOR John Heiderscheit 10.0 4.0 14.0
FM1 U S SENATOR WRITE-IN 1.0   1.0
FM1 U S SENATOR OVER VOTES      
FM1 U S SENATOR UNDER VOTES 5.0 3.0 8.0

Each row has a separate column for election day, absentee and total results. This makes it straightforward to set the vote_breakdowns field of the RawResult record.

Create a single RawResult record for each row and set the votes field to row['Total Votes'].

Set the vote_breakdowns field to a dictionary like this:

 
{
    'absentee': row['Absentee'],
    'election_day': row['Election Day'],
}

Vote breakdowns in rows

Consider these rows from a precicnt-level results file from Iowa’s Union County: Precinct | Race | Candidate | | Total Votes ——– | —- | ——— | | ———– Union | U.S. Senator | Roxanne Conlin | Polling | 125.0 Union | U.S. Senator | Roxanne Conlin | Absentee | 47.0 Union | U.S. Senator | Roxanne Conlin | Total | 172.0

While some result files have the vote breakdowns in separate columns, others, like this example, have a row for each type of vote for a candidate.

While you could implement logic to combine multiple rows into a single RawResult record with a vote_breakdowns field, we want to keep our loader logic as simple as possible and have our RawResult records reflect the data in the source file. Create one RawResult record for each of the rows. For the first row, set the votes_type field to election_day, for the second, set it to absentee and for the third, set it to None.

When creating Result records in a transform, collect the RawResult records with votes_type set to absentee or election_day and use them to set the vote_breakdowns field.