Voting made easier and other bright ideas

Betty Carlson (L) helps her husband Keith Carlson, who is visually impaired, fill out his ballot during early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on September 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Betty Carlson (L) helps her husband Keith Carlson, who is visually impaired, fill out his ballot during early voting at the Black Hawk County Courthouse on September 27, 2012 in Waterloo, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

Making it easier to search the voting records of Florida politicians and making voting more accessible to all citizens are two of 22 voting-related projects awarded grants this week by the Knight Foundation.

Orlando Sentinel data analysts Charles Minshew and Andrew Gibson will get $35,000 to create Tabs on Tallahassee, a searchable database of voting records of Florida legislators. The University of Florida’s Juan Gilbert will get $35,000 to develop Accessible Voting for Everyonean electronic voting system to make voting easier for all citizens, particularly those with disabilities.

The foundation’s Knight News Challenge handed out $3.2 million for 22 projects Wednesday in Austin, Texas. Ten of the projects get more than $200,000. The rest get $35,000.

The foundation has given away $50 million to more than 130 projects over eight years.

The biggest award this year, $525,000, went to The Center for Responsive Politics and GuideStar for Inside the 990 Treasure Trove, a proposal to unearth and track campaign contributions by unregulated non-profits.

Among other winners: efforts to make state campaign finances more accessible, a way to access and fact-check political advertisements and  a way to provide less-expensive, more reliable exit polls.

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