A cheatsheet for the initial interview with election data sources. Below are some suggested questions. The overall goal is to get a sense of the elections data landscape for a state, and of course, to identify the best source of certified results.

Questions

Can you describe the election data lifecycle in your state, from pre-election data gathering (e.g. candidate lists) to post-election results certification?

Can you describe the results certification process? How does data certified at the local level filter up to the state?

Is it possible for certified state results to not match certified results from sub-state jurisdictions?

What software systems does your state use to manage its data?

What is the cleanest, richest source of certified results data in your state?

Is precinct-level data available? If not, what levels of breakdown are available?

Are there any idiosyncrasies in the data or hidden landmines that require special attention?

Does the state have open or closed primaries and primary runoffs? Has that status changed since 2000?

Anything else we should know about the data that we haven’t asked?