Thurs 12 December: Non-partisan voter information organisation, Democracy Club, calls for parties, media and electoral institutions to work together to build a UK-wide polling station finder service
On election day today, 12 December 2019, there are at least four different polling station finders available online:
- Democracy Club’s WhereDoIVote.co.uk (which also powers The Electoral Commission’s website)
- the Labour Party’s;
- the Liberal Democrats’;
- the Electoral Office of Northern Ireland’s
- and some councils provide their own.
Each service has a different level of coverage of the UK and occasionally provides different results for the same address. This could confuse voters.
Democracy Club is now calling for the parties, media and The Electoral Commission to come together after the election to work out how to create a service that works for every registered voter in the country.
There is a high demand for this information. At least one million people will use Democracy Club’s finder for this election alone. The UK should do more to meet civic expectations of digital services for democracy.
The datasets are constructed on a similar basis, but political parties have access to more data. Democracy Club builds its dataset by local authorities sending us data. The parties don’t need to rely on this because they have access, as political participants, to the full register of voters, with addresses and polling locations in every area. Nevertheless, building a finder in this way is still a mammoth task; a task which Labour and the Liberal Democrats have unnecessarily duplicated.
There is demand for a non-party-branded finder. Local authorities want a finder to add to their websites, as does The Electoral Commission. Several media organisations, from the Guardian to Snapchat, want non-partisan versions of a finder too. We might even convince the BBC to put it on their website one day.
The status quo is not sustainable. Voters should not have to rely on a small non-profit organisation such as Democracy Club, or a political party with an interest in a certain outcome, to find their voting information. The Electoral Commission, or central government, should be able to provide centralised data on polling locations in the UK, which political parties and other organisations can draw upon to power their own branded finders.
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