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Three months to go!

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All the ingredients for a delicious local election

We’re commencing the descent into Thursday 2 May 2019. Thirty million potential voters. An estimated 20,000 candidates. 250 local authorities. Let’s do this!

In today’s blog: we kick off work on polling locations and introduce Peter who will be assisting with that work; there are updates on candidates, hustings and much much more!

📍 Location, location, location 📍

Polling station data for May has started to pour into the Democracy Club mailbox. With happy timing, we’ve been joined by a new elections assistant — Peter Keeling — who’s going to be triaging all the lovely data and managing the conversations with local authorities. Over to Peter…

Hello everyone! I’m Democracy Club’s new Elections Assistant for the May 2019 local elections. I’ll be liaising with councils in order to acquire the data which powers the Where Do I Vote polling station finder.

I’m originally from Bath and have studied at the universities of Gloucestershire, Bristol and Kent, where I have just finished a PhD in modern British political history (specifically 1880-1914; if your pub quiz team is currently looking for someone to fill the ‘Gladstonian trivia’ slot then I am available). I have a particular interest in the history of British democracy and electoral law, and the many and varied ways in which individuals interact with it. My research has encompassed a wide range of other subjects, however, from civil-military relations to the early history of the Channel Tunnel. In my free time I walk, read an inordinate amount and play various board/computer games.

I’m looking forward to learning more about the nuts and bolts of democracy while working at Democracy Club.”

Welcome Peter! 🎉

👩‍👧‍👧 It’s a family affair 👩‍👧‍👧

Candidates data is gradually trickling in — partly as a response to emailing our list of local parties (thanks to everyone who added data to this sheet).

We’re seeing a good number of favourite biscuits, with Jaffa Cakes polling quite well at this early stage in the race. More importantly (?) we’re seeing lots of statements to voters, email addresses and photos uploaded.

It’s never too early to get the information in the system, as we already have voters trying to find information via WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk. Here’s the reaction of one keeno:

”there was no information about the candidates or what they stand for it is a crap website”

You know what to do, blog reader, you know what to do.

This week also saw our first example of a candidate page being updated with the source ‘he’s my broski’. So if you too are the broski, siski, mumski, dadski, daughterski etcski of a candidate, do please update their page!

As always, crowdsourced candidates data will be checked against the final official nomination papers that are published in early April, and our trusted volunteers keep a close eye on new users and any edits to candidate statements.

🥇 England’s newest politicians 🥇

Yesterday saw seven by-elections, count ‘em! As always, we’re looking for results data for those elections. Check this page to see which wards still need results adding (if it’s blank, it’s up-to-date!).

🙊 Speak no evil 🙊

In previous years we’ve captured details of hustings (in-person debates between the candidates) and then we’ve advertised them to the appropriate local audience on WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk. We’d definitely like to do this again, so here’s the open spreadsheet — please add any details of hustings you spot!

However! We’d also like to think about going a step further this year and seeing what it takes to host — or even just attempt to host — a Democracy Club hustings, in a way that is as accessible and as scalable as possible. (Vision statement alert: a hustings for every election?). First step: would you be interested in helping out? Email us!

🎉 We’re on Wikidata 🎉

Our candidate IDs are being added to Wikidata! Thanks to Andrew Gray for his help here. This means more linked data, hurrah. That is, other projects using Wikidata will be able to spot if a person has also been a candidate for UK election, and means that we can slurp out any linked data from Wikidata from that person ID. This could lead to more info being shown on WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk, for example. If you’d be interested to check out what’s available and whether any clever data reuse could be done, let us know!

🧩 Comma-separated vibes 🧩

Last week’s blog — on how we can better serve users of our CSVs — ignited lots of interest on twitter and a couple of comments directly on the blog post. It’s well worth a read if you missed it. We’ll aim to write a follow-up blog post soon.

📅 What’s next? 📅

We’re off to catch up with The Electoral Commission on Monday and inculcate their new staff members in the ways of open elections data.

Later in the week, Sym will be heading to NotWestminster, the UK’s premiere local democracy gathering, so buy him milk stout if you see him!

Forward!