Projects related to policy and politics.

Where can Americans vote by mail?
A piece for the New York Times on voting by mail in the 2020 elections.

In an election filled with novelty and uncertainty, the incredible shift towards voting by mail has been one of the most divisive and unique factors at play in 2020. In August, we broke down the differences in each state's laws regarding mail-in and absentee ballots.

This turned out to be one of the most rewarding (and most frustrating) pieces I've worked on. If, after this past election, anyone remains unconvinced of the decentralized nature of America's day-to-day political organization, I implore them to spend a couple months scouring the websites of state officials, who all publish different information, in different places, and at different times. No wonder the public was confused about how to vote by mail.

The full piece can be found here. I worked alongside the mind-bogglingly talented and kind Lazaro Gamio from Graphics and Matt Stevens from Politics.

These states provide case data at the local level.

The New York Times
Round II.

I was fortunate enough to return to the Times from March to September of this year, and was able to contribute to a whole new set of interesting and impactful projects, including this piece, which impressed upon me more than any other the value of journalism in this time.

I worked on other pieces on Covid-19, such as this piece about the spread of the virus in Latino communities, and this piece about transmission as K-12 schools reopened for the 2020-2021 school year. I also helped the Times track the locations of protests over the death of George Floyd.

Finally, I spent much of my time working on a piece about each state's rules around voting by mail in 2020—more details above.

These states provide case data at the local level.


Why don't we think about Afghanistan?
How Afghanistan became an invisible war.

This is another project I worked on while at the New York Times. As the war in Afghanistan came to a close, we stopped to think about why it occupied such a smaller place in the nation's conciousness than wars of the past. I took a data-driven approach to answering this question - after lots of iteration on a variety of statistics and charts, we came to four takeaways:
  • Fewer Soldiers, Fewer Veterans - in 2018, there were fewer living U.S. veterans of World War Two than there were veterans of Afghanistan.
  • Minimizing Casualties - fewer US soldiers have died in Afghanistan than nearly any previous U.S. war.
  • A Smaller Portion of Military Spending - even as military spending has skyrocketed, only a fraction of our miltary budget goes towards operations in Afghanistan.
  • Fewer Headlines - news outlets (including the Times) have spent much less energy on covering Afghanistan than they have previous wars.
Read the full story here.

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Kamala Harris of California spoke the most during Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate...

The New York Times
Projects I've worked on with the Times' graphics department.

I recently had the opportunity to intern with the New York Times' graphics department, where I worked on stories addressing a wide range of topics - my work ranged from tracking speaking time during a Democratic debate, to reconstructing the interior of a migrant detention center in Clint, Texas to visualizing trends in immigration policy over the past 100 years.

I also worked on:

Former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and Senator Kamala Harris of California spoke the most during Wednesday night's Democratic presidential debate...

These are all projects from my first experience at the Times, in 2019.

How could we change American values...
without changing the people?

Easy - rearrange the state boundaries. Right now, many of America's states are diverse, containing many groups of people with different values and ideas. This makes them a relatively successful method of governance - large majorities are less likely to dominate, and state governments can look out for minority interests better than the federal government can, simply because there are fewer small minorities in each state than in the entire nation (obviously)

Here is a set of maps with the United States divided into 53 (annoying number, I know) states divided up in just the opposite way. Instead of diverse states, I've divided the USA into groups of similar people. A nation divided as such would fall much more easily into just that - a nation divided. Below, the new states with some identifying cities, and the new states broken up into regions:

I also thought it would be interesting to see how the 2012 election played out in Alternative America. Turns out it's very similar - it would be more interesting to see the makeup of the Senate and the House under this system. And yes, there are fractional delegates. No, this is not real so no, I do not care.

Would Trump still win?
A return to Alternative America.

Now that Trump has won and we're living in Alternative Facts America, I've returned to my own version of Alternative America (outlined below) and created a new map to measure the results of the most recent election.

Turns out Trump still wins. He takes 57.7% of the electoral college vote (pretty similar to the real thing, actually, where he took 56.8%).