CA Election 2022 Data Challenge

Data Science + Civic Engagement

The UC Davis DataLab: Data Science and Informatics hosts the California Election Data Challenge, a month-long data science and civic engagement competition designed to leverage public data to help us understand issues on the ballot in upcoming local elections. Participants build their data literacy, visualization and communication skills while contributing to informed civic dialogue.

Teams participating in the Challenge develop reproducible research projects that culminate in presentations with data visualizations exploring an issue pertaining to a specific ballot initiative. By entering the Challenge, participants contribute to their technical portfolios, explore publicly available data, expand their professional networks, and can win $$$ prizes!

The CA Election 2022 Data Challenge focuses on the November 8th, 2022 California ballot initiatives, which cover topics including health care, human rights, and tax reform. This year's Challenge runs September 26-October 24 with an internal Showcase on October 25-26 and public Symposia on November 7, 2022.

Want to get involved? Check out the sections below to find out how to register your team, get help, and develop a winning project!

Interested in learning about the prior CA Election Data Challenges? Visit the California Election 2020 Data Challenge page to learn more about the 2020 initiatives, view the winning projects, and watch the 2020 finalist Webinar.

About the Challenge


California voters are presented with several ballot initiatives each election year. These propositions are an important way for Californians to shape the future of our state.

But, many voters say there are too many of them and that they’re too complicated and confusing to understand. Voters also often worry about their ability to make an informed decision. The UC Davis DataLab runs Election Data Challenges to leverage public data to help us understand each election’s ballot initiatives, grow our data science community, and encourage participation in the civic process.

For the CA 2022 Election Data Challenge, participants working in teams of two or more will select one of the November 8th, 2022 California ballot initiatives and, using at least one publicly available dataset, create a project culminating data visualizations that explore or analyze an aspect of the issue. Multiple teams can choose to work on the same ballot initiative, but each team must have their own unique research question and project.

The 2022 Challenge builds upon DataLab’s “PropFest 2018” and “CA 2020 Election Data Challenge,” where successful projects included pursuits that:

  • Analyzed potential impacts of a proposed initiative on specific regions, sectors, and/or populations;
  • Tracked and summarized the historical development of a proposition, including its supporters and opponents;
  • Uncovered trends in public response to the issue; and
  • Fact-checked rhetoric or claims on both sides of the debate.

To learn more about prior Election Data Challenges, click here.

DataLab provides support in helping match participants into teams and get started on their projects. We also host weekly open work sessions, technical office hours, and mentor Q&A sessions (see detailed Timeline, below). By October 24th all competing teams will upload a short (< 10 minute) video presentation of their project and data visualization(s) (along with the link to the project’s public GitHub repository that includes a readME and brief report) to a Virtual Showcase which will run asynchronously on Slack from October 25th-26th. All teams are encouraged to submit their project (even if unfinished), review each other’s visualizations, and offer helpful, supportive, and constructive comments and questions. By observing the progress of the other teams, participants not only grow their network and skill set, but also gain insights to help improve their final project. And remember, the most collegial individuals also win a prize!

Judges from DataLab and across the University will review all submissions. Selected finalists will receive additional mentorship and win up to $500 as well as the opportunity to present their project to the broader campus community at an online public Symposia on Monday, November 7th (5-7pm)


Anyone affiliated with the UC Davis and wider UC community is invited to participate on a team. In past years we’ve had teams composed of undergraduates, graduate students, postdocs, staff and even high school students engage in the Data Challenge. Prizes are only awarded to teams whose project focuses on an issue relating to a single initiative on the November 8th, 2022 CA ballot. Only current UC Davis students and postdoctoral scholars are eligible to win monetary prizes; teams without a lead who is a current UC Davis student or postdoc are welcome to submit a project to earn a certificate of participation and win swag packs.

Prior team prize categories have included:

  • Most accessible
  • Most innovative
  • Most data-licious

Individual prizes are also awarded to the participants who demonstrate great collegiality, perseverance, and high engagement throughout the Data Challenge. This includes providing helpful and supportive feedback and resources to other participants and teams on the Slack workspace, during the Showcase, and during other Challenge-related activities.


The goal of the Data Challenge is to support data literacy and explore data visualization applications to promote quantitatively informed civic dialogue. The emphasis of this challenge is on the process of working with data to uncover insights and provide an experience for applying data science to address real-world challenges. Projects and data visualizations can encompass anything related to the ballot initiative, but this challenge will not support political agendas. The goal is not to convince people how to vote, but to help yourself and the wider community understand how to use data to investigate civic topics including the ballot initiatives.

Full transparency of the data, code, outputs, and interpretations is expected from all participants. In addition:

  • Projects must use at least one publicly available dataset.
  • All data visualizations must be reproducible. 
  • All projects must include a summary report and detailed documentation.

Teams must provide access to all materials used to produce their data visualization through a public GitHub repository. Best practices are expected for the organization of the repository, which should include all data, code, and outputs, along with a detailed readME explaining the files and links to the source datasets. 

For both the Showcase and Symposia presentations, teams should explain their data visualization, and highlight the process used for its development. Template slides will be provided to all registered teams. At a minimum, presentations should include: 

    • Brief overview of the issue (your the research question) and its relevance for the given ballot initiative;
    • Where and how the data were obtained;
    • What tools, technologies, and techniques were used to analyze and visualize the data;
    • How they interpreted those findings;
    • What the data illuminates about a given issue pertaining to the ballot initiative;
    • Limitations of the source data or resulting visualization for understanding the issue

This Challenge provides an opportunity to learn and practice the process of developing a data science project. For the Showcase and Symposia, teams are encouraged to share any challenges they faced developing the project, how they overcame those challenges, and ask for suggestions and advice from others.


Friday Sept 23   Challenge website goes live!
Tuesday Sept 27 6-7pm

Virtual Challenge Kickoff. We will discuss goals of the challenge, introduce the timeline and resources, provide details about the showcase and symposium, and answer participant questions. We’ll then open up breakout rooms to facilitate team match-making for interested participants. Register now for the Zoom link.

Wednesday Sept 28 1-2:30pm DataLab Technical Drop-in Office Hours
Thursday Sept 29 4-6pm Open in person work session and team match-making (DataLab Classroom, Shields 360). Individuals who do not have a team should submit the registration form in advance to receive help getting matched with a team and to join the Data Challenge Slack workspace.
Tuesday Oct 4 4-6pm Mentor Q&A session (registered teams must RSVP for Zoom link)
Wednesday Oct 5 1-2:30 DataLab Technical Drop-in Office Hours
Thursday Oct 6  4-6pm Open in-person work session (DataLab Classroom, Shields 360)
Tuesday Oct 11 4-6pm Mentor Q&A session (registered teams must RSVP for Zoom link)
Wednesday Oct 12 1-2:30pm DataLab Technical Drop-in Office Hours
Thursday Oct 13 4-6 Open in person work session (DataLab Classroom, Shields 360)
Tuesday Oct 18 4-6pm Mentor Q&A session (registered teams must RSVP for Zoom link)
Wednesday Oct 19 1-2:30pm DataLab Technical Drop-in Office Hours
Thursday Oct 20 4-6pm Open in-person work session (DataLab Classroom, Shields 360)
Friday Oct 21 10am-12pm Open office hours with Challenge organizers for final check-in before the virtual showcase. Zoom link will be distributed to all registered teams and posted on the Challenge Slack workspace.
Monday Oct 24 12pm Deadline to submit to the Showcase (see Slack workspace for instructions). All teams must be registered by this date.
Tuesday-Wednesday Oct 25-26   Virtual Showcase for registered teams, mentors and judges!
  Oct 31-Nov 1   Judges announce finalists to present at the Webinar. Finalists meet with Organizers for presentation refinement.
Monday Nov 7 5-7pm Public Symposia featuring keynote speakers and presentations by Challenge finalists. Free and open to the public but registration required to receive the link.
Tuesday Nov 8 Election Day GET OUT AND VOTE!


Registration Info

Virtual Kickoff and Team Matching Event

Join us on Friday, September 26th from 5-6pm to learn about the Challenge goals, timeline and resources, and connect with potential teammates. Register here for the Zoom link.

Register Your Team

Have a team in mind and want to get started? Register now to participate in the challenge events and be added to our Slack workspace. Don’t have a team but want to participate? Complete the individual registration form by September 28th at noon and we will provide support with team matching. All teams must be registered by October 24th to be eligible to compete in the Virtual Showcase to win prizes and the chance to present at the Symposia! Interested but not sure if you qualify to participate? Contact us.

Get Help

Mentor Q&A Sessions

Experts from the UC Davis community have volunteered to meet with participating teams periodically throughout the Data Challenge. Zoom links for these sessions will be distributed in advance through the Challenge’s Slack workspace.

More information coming soon! 

Technical Mentor Office Hours

DataLab’s data science team hosts weekly drop-in office hours on Wednesdays from 1-2:30 pm. They can provide support with developing research questions and approaches, troubleshooting your code, and finding learning resources. To join the virtual office hours see this page for details and how to obtain the Zoom link. DataLab’s technical experts at these drop-in sessions include:

Wesley Brooks, Research Data Science
Oliver Kryelos, Virtual Reality Data Specialist
Pamela Reynolds, DataLab Associate Director
Tyler Shoemaker, Postdoctoral Scholar of Digital Humanities
Michele Tobias, Geospatial Data Specialist

Final Check-In with Challenge Organizers

A final optional check-in session for all teams is scheduled for Friday, October 21st on Zoom from 10am-noon. The Challenge organizers will go over guidelines for project submissions to the virtual showcase and answer any questions. Materials and Zoom link will be distributed in advance through the Challenge’s Slack workspace.

Challenge Slack Workspace

All registered individuals and teams are invited to join the Challenge’s Slack workspace. Check out channels #getting_started, #resources, #team_formation and #help_me to ask for and share helpful tips.

More Resources

Find a Ballot Initiative

The CA November 8th, 2022 CA ballot initiatives cover topics including health care, human rights, and tax reform.

Ballot Initiative Number Name of Initiative Topic
Prop 1 Guarantee Abortion Rights in State Constitution Human Rights, Health
Prop 26 Legalize Sports Betting at Tribal Casinos Taxes
Prop 27 Allow Online Sports Betting Taxes
Prop 28 Guarantee Funding for Arts and Music Education Education
Prop 29 Impose New Rules on Dialysis Clinics Health
Prop 30 Tax Millionaires for Electric Vehicle Programs Taxes, Climate Change
Prop 31 Uphold Ban on Flavored Tobacco Products Health

Discover Open Data

Teams are expected to use at least one open data set for their project. Not sure where to start? Check out this portal made available for California. Need to find more publicly accessible datasets? Come to the mentoring sessions and/or reach out to your Research Librarians!

Setting Up Your Project

Documenting Your Project

Learning new data science skills

Check out the recordings, slides and code repositories from previous DataLab workshops on topics ranging from getting started with git and GitHub, to working in R, Python, SQL, QGIS, and on topics ranging from machine learning and data visualization to Bayesian statistics. Interested in a specific topic?  Send us an email to suggest a topic for a future workshop!

Research Librarians

Keynote Speakers - information coming soon!

Challenge Results

Join us at the public Symposia on November 7th and stay tuned for 2022 competition results!