Half Baked Idea: Google Mashup With Voting Records

I recently came across the US Congress Votes Database, which is maintained by the Washington Post. Its essentially a database of everybody in congress, every bill, and how they voted.

There are several sites like this, but I believe this is the only one who offers their data as an RSS Feed!

RSS Feeds are great, because then political junkies can get an instant fix, even when they're not watching CSPAN. Using the feeds, you could basically get an email every time your congressman voted, or refused to vote, along with info on the bill.

Having the data in an easily shared, XML format is a nice step towards transparency... but politics are so polarized these days that most of them vote along party lines. Often, you don't need 500 feeds, you really only need two.

Kind of disappointing... so I had better get busy mocking them.

So here's my latest mashup idea:

  1. Download the vote data for every senator via RSS
  2. Filter the data for votes that go against the party line.
  3. Do a mashup with Google Maps to display the districts of the offending congressman.

Now, any time a vote occurs, and somebody dares to challenge the status quo in congress, a little warning will pop-up over their district. It will contain the vote info, and links to learn more.

I call it The Independent Thought Alarm. It should help those thumb breakers in congress crack down on those pesky bipartisan coalitions, and their evil attempts to make the world a better place!

Now if I could only cross-reference it with how much pork-barrel spending each district gets... but the bill that would allow citizens to access a database of pork barrel government spending projects got killed... stupid secret senate holds.

Maybe next year.

hat tip: Simpsons

UPDATE: For those of you coming here from googlemapsmania, this project is not yet complete... I hope to find time to finish it by next week or so.

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