Democracy Club

About

Democracy Club aims to make the process of democracy better for everyone.

We believe that there is a lot of work needed to be done to bring the UK political system in the to digital age, and our tools are a start.

In this video from March 2016, Joe Mitchell — a co-ordinator at Democracy Club - explains how we try to do this.

Some of the things we do are:

  • Organise a group of several thousand volunteers who want to make democracy better. Join them!

  • Crowdsource and maintain a list of candidates for elections. Contact us if you are interested in using it.

  • Run a polling station finder to make it possible to find out where you can vote, online. We work with local government to publish the data that powers it.

  • Build voter information services, like 2015’s YourNextMP and 2016's WhoCanIVoteFor. Together our services and data have helped over 1.3m people learn about their local candidates.

  • Run a register of elections. Elections - especially by-elections - are happening regularly across the UK. But until now, nobody had developed an ID system that would allow us to capture them all and to run tools that work across many elections.

  • Collect election leaflets in a public archive. We ask the public to snap a photo of leaflets put through their door so the world can see them.

There’s a big list of other things we want to do on Github.

History

In 2010 7,000 non-partisan volunteers got together as Democracy Club and started doing useful, simple activities like working out who all the candidates were, and collecting information about what candidates thought about major issues.

In 2015 we got bigger. We crowdsourced the most comprehensive and accurate database of candidates in recent electoral history. It was used by organisations like Google, 38 Degrees and The Daily Telegraph. We also crowdsourced the largest list of hustings in the UK, collected press mentions, election leaflets and CVs of each candidate. Over a million people directly used our services, and millions more benefitted from the data through third parties.

Which side are we on?

Democracy Club is non-partisan. We do not support any political party. We do not take policy positions, even on things like electoral reform. We are concerned with collating data and building tools that enable people to be better informed.

Who funds us?

We are grateful for project-based funding from the Rowntree Trust and Google.org. We were part of Bethnal Green Ventures’ Winter 2016 cohort.

We are actively seeking core funding to create a sustainable organisation to make democracy work better for everyone. Please get in touch if you share our vision.

If you can chip in right now, please set up a monthly donation.

Connect with us

Who are we?

Currently, the club is coordinated by Sym and Joe.

Joe and Sym, Democracy Club coordinators

Sym Roe

Sym is a developer and has worked in the open/government space for years. He runs Democracy Club partly by writing code and partly by working with others to build a community of organisations who want to work together.

Joe Mitchell

Joe thinks that our most tricky political problems are systemically linked by weak democratic engagement. He thinks digital tools can begin to empower everyone — even those who don’t use them directly — to make democracy better. He has a background in public engagement, advocacy and public sector marketing.

There are also ten to twenty core individuals who volunteer to make Democracy Club happen, two of whom are highlighted here:

Tim Green

Tim worked on Democracy Club over the 2010 election and has created two other candidate sites, YourNextPCC and YourNextMEP. He thinks that lowering barriers to entry for understanding our system is critical if we want to improve UK democracy, and non-partisan online tools are the best way to achieve this.

Mark Longair

Mark is a developer working for mySociety on their parliaments team. He's been working on development of the code that powers Democracy Club’s candidates crowdsourcer, both as part of his day job and as a volunteer for Democracy Club.