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What is mccelections?

mccelections is a Django application that can be used for any of the following election result-related tasks:

  • ingesting AP election results using the Elex API wrapper
  • ingesting results that have been hand-keyed or scraped into a Google Sheet (Google Sheets can parse HTML, XML and other structured data formats simply by setting up the proper formula)
  • writing custom Python scrapers to ingest results data
  • hand-keying results data directly into the Django admin
  • automatically calculating vote percent and precinct reporting percents for hand-keyed, Google Sheet or scraped results
  • recording and replaying results data, such as from AP tests
  • automatically simulating manual data changes
  • storing AP, scraped, manual or any combination of data in a unified format
  • outputting this data as a RESTful API
  • sending updates to Slack

Setting up and running mccelections

Thanks to

Initial requirements

  • Python 2.7.x
  • OS X or Ubuntu 14
  • Homebrew

Optional requirements

  • Associated Press API key (for ingestion)
  • Amazon S3 bucket (for baking to static)

If you're using an S3 bucket, then you need to add these to your .bash_profile (Mac) or .bashrc (Ubuntu) file with their respective values:


Get your local environment ready

Install pip

easy_install pip

Install virtualenv

pip install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper

Install postgresql

brew install postgresql

Get your server environment ready

I recommend setting up both test and prod environments.

Connect to server via ssh

If using a pem key with AWS

ssh -i <filepath>/<filename>.pem <username>@<>

If whitelisted via AWS, then

ssh <username>@<>

Install necessary packages

Check for package updates

sudo apt-get update

Upgrade those packages

sudo apt-get upgrade

Install Python dependencies

sudo apt-get install python-pip python-dev python-setuptools

Install virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper

sudo pip install virtualenv virtualenvwrapper

Install postgres

sudo apt-get install postgresql python-psycopg2 libpq-dev

If you just need the postgres client (e.g. connecting to database via Amazon RDS), then try this (h/t Postgres docs)

sudo apt-get install postgresql-client

Install Slack integration packages (optional)

For Slackbot, if you want to avoid SSL warnings, via this SO thread:

sudo apt-get install libffi-dev libssl-dev

These are included in requirements.txt, so you can remove them if you're not using the Slackbot

pip install pyopenssl ndg-httpsclient pyasn1

Set up the Django app (local or server)

Prep for using AP API (optional)

Add the following to your .bash_profile for a Mac or .bashrc for Ubuntu:

AP API key

echo "export AP_API_KEY=<API_KEY_HERE>" >> ~/.bash_profile

Elex recording type

echo "export ELEX_RECORDING=flat" >> ~/.bash_profile

Elex recording directory

echo "export ELEX_RECORDING_DIR=/tmp/ap-elex-data/" >> ~/.bash_profile

Feel free to change this path based on your particular preference or server set up. Just be sure all other paths below (search for /home/ubuntu/) reflect where your project lives.

echo "export SAVER_DIR=/home/ubuntu/mccelections/electionsproject/snapshots" >> ~/.bash_profile

Create an Elex recording directory, for example

mkdir -p /tmp/ap-elex-data/

Set up virtualenv and virtualenvwrapper

Create the environments directory, if you don't have one already. You can name this anything you like, as long as it's consistent with future related steps.

mkdir -p ~/Envs

Set the workon home, which is a shortcut with virtualenvwrapper (.bash_profile for Mac, .bashrc for Ubuntu)

echo "export WORKON_HOME=~/Envs" >> ~/.bash_profile

Source the virtualenvwrapper file

echo "source /usr/local/bin/" >> ~/.bash_profile

Source your bash profile for the changes to take effect in that terminal tab

source ~/.bash_profile

Install git

On Ubuntu

sudo apt-get install git

On OS X, follow these instructions

Generate an ssh key for GitHub

Execute this command in your terminal

ssh-keygen -t rsa -b 4096 -C "<YOUR_EMAIL_ADDRESS>"

Enter this as the file, for example


Enter a secret passphrase

On Mac, copy it to clipboard with

pbcopy < ~/.ssh/

On other platforms like Ubuntu, you can use a text editor like vim to read and copy the file contents

vim ~/.ssh/

Or run this to output it to the terminal

cat ~/.ssh/

Then highlight, copy and paste it as a new SSH key in GitHub

Clone GitHub repo

Make sure you're in the correct directory, such as root

cd ~

Clone the repo

git clone

Change into that directory

cd ~/mccelections

Make your virtualenv

Using a handy command that comes with virtualenvwrapper

mkvirtualenv mccelections

Install requirements

This will install all the Python packages used by mccelections. If you don't plan to use certain features (e.g. Slack integration), feel free to remove them before installing.

pip install -r requirements.txt

Django setup

Create a private settings file for each environment. NOTE: These files are excluded from version control in the .gitignore file, but it's important to confirm before comittting.

touch ~/mccelections/electionsproject/electionsproject/

Add the following settings to each environment's file with the correct values in place of the <VALUE> listed for each variable:


 ## Slack token to send messages to related account

 ## TEST
 db_engine = "django.db.backends.postgresql_psycopg2"
 db_name = "<NAME>"
 db_user = "<USER>"
 db_password = "<PASSWORD>"
 db_host = "<HOST>"
 db_port = "<PORT>"

In and, you must add the related domains for the API base URL


And Django allowed hosts


If you're using a server, copy the server-specific settings to main settings file

cp electionsproject/ electionsproject/


cp electionsproject/ electionsproject/

If you're using localhost, make sure the database settings are correct. If you haven't already created a postgres database and user, you need to do that. For example, on a Mac

Check the settings file and verify everything is correct

Make sure you're in the app directory before running any management command, such as the initial database migration

cd ~/mccelections/electionsproject/results

Then migrate the database

./ migrate

Now create a Django superuser

./ createsuperuser

Collect static files

./ collectstatic

Enter 'yes' to overwrite

Make sure all shell scripts have perms to run (optional)

Only necessary if you plan to use the bash scripts

chmod u+x bashscripts/*

Running the localhost server

setup for local

If you're on localhost, start the Django development server

./ runserver

Make sure you see this

 Django version 1.9, using settings 'elections.settings'
 Starting development server at

Running the remote server

uWSGI setup

If you're on an Ubuntu server, you'll need to install and configure the server

sudo pip install uwsgi
sudo mkdir -p /etc/uwsgi/sites
cd /etc/uwsgi/sites

ini file

sudo vim electionsproject.ini

Update your virtualenv name below for <YOUR_ENV> and then paste this block

 project = electionsproject
 base = /home/ubuntu/mccelections/electionsproject

 chdir = %(base)/%(project)
 home = /home/ubuntu/Envs/<YOUR ENV>
 module = %(project).wsgi:application

 master = true
 processes = 5

 socket = /tmp/%(project).sock
 chmod-socket = 664
 uid = www-data
 gid = www-data
 vacuum = true

 harakiri = 120
 max-requests = 50

Save and close

Upstart script

Edit the uwsgi configuration

sudo vim /etc/init/uwsgi.conf

Add the following

 description "uWSGI application server in Emperor mode"

 start on runlevel [2345]
 stop on runlevel [!2345]

 setuid ubuntu
 setgid www-data

 exec /usr/local/bin/uwsgi --emperor /etc/uwsgi/sites

Save and close

nginx setup

Install nginx

sudo apt-get install nginx

Edit the configuration

sudo vim /etc/nginx/sites-available/electionsproject

Paste the following and be sure to replace <hostname> with your host. If you want all domains to be able to access the API data (a.k.a. CORS, cross-orgin requests), use '*' there -- as it is currently. If you want to specify a domain, add it there instead. You can also update the cache expiration time as desired.

 server {
    listen 80;
    server_name <hostname>;
    access_log /var/log/nginx/electionsproject_access.log;
    error_log /var/log/nginx/electionsproject_error.log;

    location = /favicon.ico { access_log off; log_not_found off; }

    location /static/ {
        root /home/ubuntu/mccelections/electionsproject;

    location / {
        add_header      'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' '*';
        add_header       Cache-Control "public";
        expires          1h;
        include          uwsgi_params;
        uwsgi_pass       unix:/tmp/electionsproject.sock;

    location /admin {
         include          uwsgi_params;
         uwsgi_pass       unix:/tmp/electionsproject.sock;

    location /api/v1/resultlive {
        add_header       'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' '*';
        add_header       Cache-Control "public";
        expires          1m;
        include          uwsgi_params;
        uwsgi_pass       unix:/tmp/electionsproject.sock;

    location /v1/resultlive {
        add_header       'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' '*';
        add_header       Cache-Control "public";
        expires          1m;
        include          uwsgi_params;
        uwsgi_pass       unix:/tmp/electionsproject.sock;

    location /api/v1/resultmanual {
      add_header       'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' '*';
      add_header       Cache-Control "public";
      expires          1m;
      include          uwsgi_params;
      uwsgi_pass       unix:/tmp/electionsproject.sock;

    location /v1/resultmanual {
      add_header       'Access-Control-Allow-Origin' '*';
      add_header       Cache-Control "public";
      expires          1m;
      include          uwsgi_params;
      uwsgi_pass       unix:/tmp/electionsproject.sock;


Finish remote server setup

Create a symlink for the nginx configuration

sudo ln -s /etc/nginx/sites-available/electionsproject /etc/nginx/sites-enabled

Make sure the symlink worked

ll /etc/nginx/sites-enabled/

Check the configuration (make sure it says "OK" and doesn't throw any errors)

sudo service nginx configtest

Restart nginx

sudo service nginx restart

Start uwsgi

sudo service uwsgi start

Or, if uwsgi was already running

sudo service uwsgi restart

Django app changes not appearing?

If you've made a model or admin change, ran the migration and still aren't seeing the change reflected in the admin on a server, you can try runnning restarting uwsgi. If you still aren't seeing the change, try rebooting the server.

sudo reboot

Check the url

Making future work easier

On a server, log in

ssh <username>@<>

On a local machine, open your terminal application

Activate the virtualenv and change to that directory

workon mccelections && cd code/mccelections/electionsproject/

You can also set up an alias for this in your .bash_profile (Mac) or .bashrc (Ubunutu)

echo "alias mccelections='workon mccelections && cd code/mccelections/electionsproject/'" >> ~/.bash_profile

Then to have it take effect

source ~/.bash_profile

Test by running this


Workflow to update your servers

If you're not pushing any changes back to the repo, checkout any edited files to remove the updates

git checkout -- .

Grab the latest files off of GitHub, such as from the master branch. If you're on the test server and want to pull a test branch, specific that branch instead.

git pull origin master

Enter your secret passphrase

Make migrations based on the new changes (because migrations are listed in gitignore)

 ./ makemigrations

Migrate the database

 ./ migrate

How to use the app

You should be all set to start add or ingesting data! To test the main URLs:

  • /admin - add/update/delete data
  • /api/v1/<model>/?format=json - API url pattern

For more information on how to use the app as a developer, visit the developer instructions.

Questions? Suggestions? Submit a pull request or contact: greglinch [at] gmail [dot] com


Django application to ingest, store and output election results.








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