The Honest Politician


WINNER: Best Google Civic Information API App:

not an oxymoron, but a project name that describes its app's goal...

I genuinely believe there's a lot of politicians with good intentions. Unfortunately, it is quite difficult to recognize these great men and women.

Even from an somewhat interested voter's perspective, there is little information about his/her representatives. There is no transparency regarding the decisions that are made. And all too often we don't even have the slightest clue who is representing our interests anyway.

The difficulties of the too little group of eligible voters are affecting the politicians big time. From his/her perspective, the voters have no info about me. They don't see how I work for them. And at the same time, I don't have no idea who my supporters are. What do they 'like'?

The judges of the Hack for L.A. Hackathon agreed with me, that a great solution to these problems may lay in my first Ruby on Rails web application with the name "The Honest Politician".

In an effort to create a major step towards transparency and understanding, I combined the Google Civic Information API with the Sunlight Foundation Congress API.

I will continue to work on this app and invite others for collaboration.

My ToDo List includes:

  • Refactoring of the code
  • Validation of Google's Data
  • Find ways to collaborate with Google to improve quality of data
  • Improve loading time --> using AJAX --> graphics compression
  • Better Social Networks integration
  • Improve UI
  • Provide more info about votes and discussions of representatives --> adding govtrack.us API --> use of tts for bills, news and longer texts
  • Use of Geo Information for address input
  • Documentation

At the time of the presentation, the web application was running live on my Raspberry Pi in a normal household DSL environment. I demoed the app on an iPhone 4s via Sprint's 3G network.

For scalability reasons, I hope to find a sponsor that's willing to host the app on a dedicated server in the future as I truly believe, that this app can lead to more interest and participation in politics.

Technologies used:

  • HTML5, CSS3
  • Zurb Foundation 5 Framework
  • JavaScript (too much for my taste - but it 'fixed' a nasty bug in the framework mentioned above)
  • Ruby on Rails 4
  • Google Civic Information API
  • Sunlight Foundation Congress API

The source is public on GitHub: https://github.com/manonthemat/TheHonestPolitician/

Try it out