DemLabs blog

Why would the Senate Majority Leader block a measure to strengthen US election security?

A small team of volunteers researched possible forces behind Moscow Mitch's decision. They researched publicly available information to uncover the web of contacts, contributions and exchange of favors. Their research produced this interactive StoryMap that's both easy to follow and share.

Moscow Mitch: StoryMap of connections and motivations


The challenge

Short attention spans. Complex issues. Scattered clues. Groups with few resources struggling to report on powerful interests who would rather stay out of sight. How is the public expected to understand Moscow Mitch's motivations?

Crowdsourced research and digital story creations apps provide an affordable solution. These apps create living documents that can be refreshed with new content as it emerges. The stories are easily shared on social media or embedded in web sites. This StoryMap explains the forces behind Moscow Mitch's decision to block the election protection bill.

Network Relationship Map 


The solution

Crowdsourced volunteers reviewed hundreds of articles to research the web of connections and payments. Their research included articles from WikipediaNY TimesWashington PostThe GuardianRedditMICCNBCBrittanicaForbesSplinterNews, UnderminersBloombergHeavy,SalonCourier JournalThe AdovcatePoliticoNewsweekThe EnquirerUrban Milwaukee, NRRTOpenSecretsBusiness Insider, The TelegraphGrassroots DemPoliticsThe Hill and The Moscow Project.
The StoryMap includes:
1. Two presidents
2. A British Lord
3. Three US Senators
4. Three US Cabinet Secretaries
5. A current and a former governor
6. A federal judge
7. Four Russians oligarchs
8. Two tech billionaires
9. Three lobbyists
10. A Kentucky steel mill
11. NRA and RNC
12. Russian sexpionage with a Republican operative

These insights were used to create a network relationship map using Kumu, a free app. The map was supplemented with more details, images and a soundtrack using ArcGIS StoryMaps, another free app.

The right format?
Content should be designed in the format and depth that works best for readers. How much time do they? What device will they be using? How detailed should the content be? There is no single, right answer.
StoryMaps combine text, images, videos and maps into a digital story. Readers get the big picture from a StoryMap and are connected to other resources for details.


The underlying crowdsourced research, relationship map and StoryMap are freely available. Learn more about how to get the research and apply these apps to your cause here.

Use free apps like Kumu and StoryMaps to research and explain issues likes swamps - both real and political.

Co-Founder, DemLabs

Please share this article. Democracy Labs is a SF-based, hub for ongoing technology and creative innovation for progressives campaigns and advocacy groups.  Donate here to support our work.



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DemLabs applies innovative technology and storytelling tools in service of democratic values. It lowers the barrier of funding for worthy candidates and non-profits by applying existing free/affordable solutions.