YeaNay: An Open Source Tool to Rate the Votes of Members of the United States House of Representatives and Senate

Document Type


Lead Author Type

CIS Masters Student


Dr. Robert Adams, adams@cis.gvsu.edu

Embargo Period



Government transparency is typically regarded as the most viable way to strengthen its accountability to the public (Shkabatur, 2012). Even on the international stage, the right to access government information is regarded as fundamental to democracy (Bertot, Jaeger, & Grimes, 2011). In order to improve transparency, the US government made data, like bills and votes, available online (Brito, 2008, Colum. Sci. & Tech. L. Rev.). One popular way to organize the data available to the public is through the creation of voter guides. The method an organization used for developing a voter guide was analyzed for this project. In response to the method, a web application (YeaNay) was developed to take the largely manual process and make a highly automated solution. YeaNay utilizes HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to build the user interface and ColdFusion and PL/SQL to query the data necessary for the development of a voter guide. The data is either queried from the database or from Congress API v3 (provided by the Sunlight Foundation). One user, with minimal training, is able to use YeaNay to find and score legislation within minutes for use in a voter guide. YeaNay focuses the firehose of congressional information that is now available and presents it in a manageable and usable environment.

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