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Media outlets join forces to buy voter registration database

Wednesday, September 19, 2018 by Chad Swiatecki

A handful of Austin-based media organizations have joined a statewide consortium of 21 news outlets to purchase the Texas Voter Registration Database for 2016, 2014, 2012 and 2010. In a Twitter post on Thursday night, Houston Chronicle data editor Matt Dempsey said the cooperation came about because the data sets were “prohibitively expensive” and a pooling of resources was needed to complete the purchase. The group – known as the Texas Open Data Consortium – will use the data to generate stories about voter registration demographics, removal of voters from registration rolls, geographic concentrations of new voters, and more. All participating newsrooms provided signed affidavits saying they won’t use the data for commercial purposes, and that the total data set will not be posted online. The Austin-based news outlets taking part are The Texas Tribune, Texas Monthly, KEYE and KVUE. Notably absent is the Austin American-Statesman, which just went through an ownership change to GateHouse Media and saw 13 newsroom staffers take buyout offers. When asked about the Statesman‘s lack of participation, Dempsey responded on Twitter that “They never responded to my requests to participate.”

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