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Fast Tools for the Election, from #gijnElectionWatchdog

For the past seven weeks, a special GIJN project, #gijnElectionWatchdog, has provided reporters with tools to tackle the toughest US election stories. Many of these have been advanced or lesser-known apps for investigations into topics like campaign finance abuse and foreign interference.

Now, with just a few days remaining until a hugely consequential election — and possible chaos for weeks after — we share quick-reference tools that matter, recommended by our most-trusted experts, in this period for time-pressed journalists:

First Draft’s live 2020 dashboard surfaces messaging of major election disinformation concern in real time

  • Monitor police chatter: Track crisis incidents near polling stations in real time with a police and EMS radio scanner apps like OpenMHZ or 5-0 Radio Pro. Flag any evidence of inappropriate law enforcement support for voter intimidation activity.
  • Monitor reporters’ threads: Check on what the best election reporters in each state are covering or concerned about over the election period. The Fix compiled a list of leading political reporters to follow in each state in this Twitter list.
  • Keep safe: Find guides and resources for your personal safety on CPJ’s #PressSafety2020 page.
  • Game plan: Ahead of November 3, worthwhile weekend reading includes API’s election scenarios planning guide, and the University of Washington’s guide on the political maneuvers and misinformation that newsrooms can expect on and after election day, and strategies and tools to respond.
  • Know the AP process: With so many threats of challenges, disinformation, and even violent responses to results declared by media prior to official certification weeks later, understanding how the Associated Press Decision Desk will call all 7,000 races will be important to know, and to report. Check out their explainer.
  • Have the electors dataset in the bottom drawer: For the “nightmare scenario” in which a party might seek to use friendly swing state legislatures to replace electors in order to contradict counted vote results — likely based on false voter fraud claims — find the names of those battleground electors from the Excel file within this story compiled by Journalist’s Resource.

For more on essential election resources, see GIJN’s Field Guide for Journalists on the Front Lines and the #gijnElectionWatchdog Twitter feed.


Rowan Philp is a reporter for GIJN. He was formerly chief reporter for South Africa’s Sunday Times. As a foreign correspondent, he has reported on news, politics, corruption, and conflict from more than two dozen countries around the world.

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