About Us

We're a civic technology lab building digital tools that fight disinformation and dark money.

Get in Touch

We believe that understanding who's influencing our electoral ecosystem is a universal citizen right.

Code for Democracy started as a meetup in early 2017 after a group of friends became concerned about the increasing lack of transparency and accountability in our democratic processes. Our efforts to familiarize more engineers with policy reached over 3,000 coders across San Francisco, New York City, Boston, and Washington, DC.

In 2019, we officially incorporated as a 501(c)3 nonprofit with the goal of using large-scale data engineering techniques to reverse engineer the networks of political narratives and campaign contributions that shape our democratic processes. Our long-term vision is a world where these system-level insights are accessible to all citizens, not just political operatives or select groups of academic researchers.

We're excited by recent advancements in machine learning and natural language processing, which will allow us to merge datasets of explicit relationships by computing probabilistic, implicit relationships that tie them together. Creating interconnected data from previously disparate data sources will allow us to push the boundaries of current social science approaches.

Like other players in the network analysis space, we're interested in what's happening on social media. However, we believe that social media is only a small piece of the puzzle, and that the most powerful insights will come from incorporating other datasets such news articles, blog posts, fact-checking pieces, campaign finance data, lobbying disclosures, and legislative text, as well as traditional TV and radio.

We also share many similarities with OSINT research organizations, but we are less concerned with separating authentic and inauthentic personas. This is because we place a greater focus on understanding domestic political actors, many of which have enduring distribution and amplification power through traditional channels that far exceed ad-hoc bot networks created by foreign actors.

Currently, our data-collection efforts are focused on the U.S. electoral system, but our technical infrastructure can be easily extended or re-deployed to tackle issues in additional geographies.

Our Mission

We aim to strengthen democratic processes by creating digital tools that support free and fair elections, open governance, and fact-based public policy.

Free and Fair Elections

Empower citizens with contextual knowledge

Open Governance

Enable citizens to hold policy actors accountable

Fact-Based Public Policy

Engage citizens in evidence-based governance

Our Team

We’re a data engineering team with experience working in the data-for-policy space and scaling for-profit startups. We're also true to our meetup roots and bring in volunteers from our community on occasion.

Kathy Qian
Co-Founder

Kathy is a strategy consultant turned data scientist who has worked on civil rights litigation with the ACLU, in the Innovation Labs of the World Bank, and at an enterprise software startup that was acquired for $600M. She has a BA in Economics from the University of Pennsylvania.

Cole Dutcher
Co-Founder

Cole is an associate director of engineering at Walmart, brought there via the acquisition of Jet.com, where he was an early pre-launch hire. He has built out and scaled up the engineering and technical operations at several startups and holds an AB in Astrophysics from Harvard University.

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