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Electionland: The Inside Story

A case study about our Electionland project was published today.

The Electionland newsroom, hosted at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism on Election Day (John Brecher for ProPublica)

The Google News Lab commissioned a case study on Electionland, a journalism project that ProPublica helped organize and participated in last year. The report was released today and is available for download.

The 66-page report was researched and written by Cassandra Lord, a writer and consultant based in London. It’s being released​ on the first day of the Collaborative Journalism Summit, a conference taking place this week at Montclair State University in New Jersey.

Electionland was the largest-ever collaborative journalism project around a single event, with more than 1,000 journalists and technologists participating. It covered the voting experience on Election Day and during early voting, looking for impediments to voting such as long lines, confusing ballots, equipment failures and voter intimidation. The project sifted through thousands of social media posts, call-center records and text messages looking for evidence that rightful voters were being denied the ability to vote.

The project took on extra relevance when then-candidate Donald Trump told supporters that the election would be “rigged” and implored them to monitor the polls on Election Day. Electionland journalists saw little evidence that either voter fraud or large-scale unauthorized poll monitoring took place.

The case study is a guide for news organizations interested in mounting similar collaborations around live news events. It goes into exhaustive detail about how the project was conceived, reported and structured. It details how the work of verifying thousands of social media reports was done, as well as how data flowed from disparate sources out to local reporters at hundreds of participating newsrooms around the U.S.

Earlier this week, the Society of Professional Journalists announced that Electionland has been awarded a Sigma Delta Chi Award for Non-Deadline Reporting.

Portrait of Scott Klein

Scott Klein

Scott Klein was a deputy managing editor. He led the teams at ProPublica that work at the intersection of journalism and technology.

About Electionland

ProPublica’s Electionland project covers problems that prevent eligible voters from casting their ballots during the 2020 elections. Our coalition of newsrooms around the country are investigating issues related to voter registration, pandemic-related changes to voting, the shift to vote-by-mail, cybersecurity, voter education, misinformation, and more.

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