U.S. Senate Now Posting Voting Data in XML

The Sunlight Foundation reported this week that the U.S. Senate has begun posting roll call voting data in XML format.

John Wonderlich, policy director for the foundation, wrote: “The new votes data should help fuel a renaissance of vote analysis and visualization. XML encourages advanced processing and analysis, making votes legible to both humans and computers, and giving us a new view on how senators vote.”

This move reverses the Senate’s longstanding policy of restricting public access to raw data about how senators vote. The House has been publishing roll call vote data in XML format since 2004.

Politico reported on May 1 that this move was spurred by a bipartisan group of seven senators: Jim Demint, R-S.C.; Joe Lieberman, I-Conn.; Dick Durbin, D-Ill.; John Ensign, R-Nev.; David Vitter, R-La.; James Risch, R-Idaho; and John Cornyn, R-Texas.

The release of Senate roll call voting data means The Scoop blog can finally cross an item off its list of the 10 most wanted types of federal data.

What’s next? ReadWriteWeb said it’s time to bring on the mashups. John Musser, founder of Programmable Web, a leading mashup and application programming interface (API) directory, is quoted on the site as saying: “The next logical step is to wrap [the Senate vote data] in an API. Having the XML is closer to having an RSS feed, and there’s not a lot of developer control of what data to retrieve. An API typically gives much more control over what data gets retrieved.”

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