Visualizing the data of elections – and their impacts: Data Journalism

October 15, 2020
October 15, 2020
Lo Bénichou
Creative Technologist
Madison Draper
Map Designer, TAM
Ken Schwencke
News Applications Editor
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During election season we’re bombarded with maps of poll data, campaigning, and results. But what other stories lay deeper within these maps, at a more local level? How does the geography of election results influence issues that impact our daily lives? In this talk, data viz reporters Lo Bénichou (The Washington Post) and Ken Schwencke (ProPublica) take us into the newsroom to discuss how visualizations of election data inform our understanding of politics - and how to think like a data journalist.

You’ll learn how to...

  • Think critically and creatively about elections data visualizations
  • Use maps to illuminate untold stories
  • Hunt for meaningful data mashups

Part of the Mapbox Elections Challenge

Explore the why and how of effective elections maps with a special speaker series and map-making contest. Learn more.


Lo Bénichou, Creative Technologist
Lo Bénichou is a creative technologist at the Washington Post. Prior to joining the team, they worked at Mapbox and at a number of media organizations like CalMatters, WIRED, Youth Radio, KQED, NPR. At Mapbox, they supported journalists in creating compelling stories using maps and data. They also led partnerships with media organizations like Buzzfeed, Mother Jones, and The Patriot Act.

Ken Schwencke, News Applications Editor
Ken Schwencke is the editor of ProPublica’s news applications team, which creates interactive databases and graphics. Ken has been with ProPublica since 2016, where he has worked on their award-winning Electionland project, ran their database of nonprofit data, and reported on LGBTQ issues and white supremacists. Previously, he worked on The New York Times’ interactive news team and the Los Angeles Times data desk. He has a journalism degree from The University of Florida.


Links shared in the session:

Example maps

New York Times 2016 election precinct maps
New York Times maps of the 2017 Virginia elections

What the District?! by ACLU

ProPublica's visualization of changes to early voting in North Carolina

ProPublica's investigation of how well elections are run state by state

Mail-in ballot tracker for the US 2020 election
Election Land collection by ProPublica

Data sources:
United States Congressional District Shapefiles

Census geo data

Data on US polling places (historical)

MIT Elections data project

Election Project early voting data
Election Project voter turnout data

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