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Keep on keeping on

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Polling stations!

A general election coming, you say?

Outside all the democracy excitement happening this week, we’re quietly getting on with the far more glamorous work of building databases and infrastructure. Here’s your democra-update.

Where do I vote?

We’ve now contacted every council running local elections next May for polling station and district data — that’s roughly 300 councils — and a few have even started to respond!

Last year we tried for universal coverage in Wales, and got about 50% of the way, but we’re on track to do much better this year, having managed to start engaging with several councils who didn’t participate last time.

In Scotland, friends at the Improvement Service in Scotland are working out whether they can gather all the spatial data for Scottish councils by next year, and I’ll update on their progress once I know more.

Northern Ireland has its own working finder, so that leaves England. Here, several councils already publish open data on their own platforms, or via data.gov.uk, but the vast majority don’t. And we think they might benefit from some gentle lobbying from you, gentle public. So in the next few weeks we’ll be thinking about how to mobilise the club to get in touch with local councillors and make the case on everyone’s behalf.

Kirklees Democracy Commission

We spent a pleasant hour this morning straining to hear across a teleconference with the Kirklees Democracy Commission. Their aim is to find out ‘what local democracy should be like in Kirklees’ — through roadshows, interviews and surveys. There’s been excellent digital coverage of their work, from twitter to livestreaming. We would love to see more councils doing the same!

Kirklees Democracy Commission logo

As part of our submission to the commission, we’ve just published all the feedback from users of our WhoCanIVoteFor site around the 2016 elections. It’d be great if every politician and journalist read all of these responses, but here’s a selection:

I. am looking for information on the candidates I am supposed to be voting for on Thursday. I cannot find anything on either candidate. If they cannot be bothered to get the information out there why should I bother turning out to vote???

I can’t find details anywhere for these people’s pledges or priorities! How am I supposed to vote for someone based solely on their name and party affiliation, or lack thereof? How the hell am I supposed to make a choice for this democracy with no information!? No bloody wonder people have checked out of local elections.

I wish to read the manifesto of each candidate

No information on what the candidates stand for. I cannot find any on any sites. No wonder we get low turnout in this country. Where is the site that candidates’ statements can be viewed like the PCC elections?

where is the voting centre if i want to vote

I don’t see no party policies I haven’t seen no candidates, having their name on a screen really isn’t helping, I have no one to vote for and then you wonder why everyone thinks are elections are a waste of time, the streets will still be full of dog shit and glass and rubbish alcoholics, smack heads and nothing ever gets done other then wasted money on politician pay rises.

How does the second choice work

Let’s do better in 2017, yeah? If Democracy Club ever gets an office (Democracy Towers?), we’re going to have these framed and put on the walls.

Anyway — we hope having a read through this stuff helps the Democracy Commission, and we’re really looking forward to seeing their summary and recommendations.

A post about post post-fact politics

Are we living in a post-fact political world? We’ll be joining Open Data Manchester and The Democratic Society to chat about this on Saturday 12 November. Come along! In advance of the event, Joe wrote a blog on ‘experts’ and how we reconnect the governed and the governors — for post post-fact politics. See you in Manchester. And thanks Andy for the post joke.

America.

Apparently they have democracy in America now. Mostly next Tuesday. We’ll be up all night to watch the election results with our friends at mySociety as part of their annual retreat. The next day, our sleep-deprived selves will be comparing notes on best practice, working out how we can collaborate more and plotting for a better world.

Next time, on DemocraBlog

More on Every Election, perhaps something on partnerships, and at some point we’ll start collecting candidates for May 2017. Can’t wait.

Forward!

Photo credit: Slaunger