We’ve published our report on the 2023 local elections.
We’re very proud of what we achieved this year. Once again we gathered polling station data from every council with a scheduled election, and were rewarded with over two million postcode searches over the two election weeks. This high number of searches was due in part to an exciting new relationship with BBC News, who used our data to run a lookup on their website.
Other highlights included:
- More than two million postcode searches from the UK public.
- Updated our systems to accommodate the 2022 Elections Act.
- Implemented significant changes to Who Can I Vote For.
- Collected polling station data from every council taking part.
- 26,570 candidates added to the database.
- Integrated data from a new electoral software supplier into the polling station finder.
You can view the full report on our website, or keep reading this blog for a more detailed review of our user feedback.
We had an excellent crop of feedback responses from users over the election period, including more than 3,800 replies between 1 and 4 May. In general this was as positive as we’ve come to expect over recent elections, with a majority of users finding our sites useful. On the other hand, users of Who Can I Vote For suffered continue to complain about limited candidate information across the site.
Each year we ask visitors to our sites the question: ‘Did you find what you were looking for?’, and the follow up question ‘Did this information make you more likely to vote?’. We also provide two text boxes - one to request what other sources they used to research the election, and the other for general comments.
|Did you find what you were looking for?||2,141||64%|
|Has this information made you more likely to vote?||2,141||46%|
|Did you find what you were looking for?||1,690||92%|
|Has this information made you more likely to vote?||1,417||76%|
Although high, for the first time user satisfaction has fallen when compared with the previous year. It’s possible that this reflects a certain plateauing of our user satisfaction; politics being what it is, a core group are always going to express dissatisfaction!
We only received 71 pieces of feedback from users in Northern Ireland, too small for a more detailed analysis. However, it wouldn’t hurt to say that these were far more positive than the average, with a satisfaction rating of 79% on Who Can I Vote For.
The people speak
Fortunately, we don’t need to make too many guesses, as 2,000 users left us some written feedback to chew over.
As usual, this feedback shows that users had few direct problems with how our websites work. Instead, the vast majority of complainants focus on the lack of candidate information, which is a longstanding issue both with the material published by candidates and our ability to collect it:
- “No information about candidates or what they are proposing. If they can’t be bothered why should l bother to vote!!!”
- “Each candidate should have to publish a statement on this website”
- “Think the lack of easily obtainable Information is why turn out is so low. Democracy not working.”
- “I’m expected to vote for one of four people about whom I have no information at all for three and bare details on the fourth. I’ll have to pray for Spiritual insight in order to choose as I have nothing to go on!”
- “It is appalling that I can find zero information on the Green candidate…If you don’t even know who he is, what does this say about your vetting process? What if he is unhinged?”
- “I have spent nearly two hours trying to find a list of candidates I can vote for in my area…This information is being withheld for reasons that are not clear but would seem to be nefarious in nature.”
- “I can’t find the information needed to make the decision for postal voting. No doubt next week there will be information but it’s too late for me - I can’t walk the distance required to vote in person so have to vote by post. This has happened in the past where information is suddenly available in the last few days. I feel this really puts disabled people at a distinct disadvantage.”
We’re always working to improve our information coverage, but it’s proving an extraordinarily difficult nut to crack. Ahead of the General Election we’ll be collecting candidate information in advance, and looking at ways we can improve party candidates en masse.
Another significant area of complaint was with the choice of candidates.
- “Why is there no Sinn Fein candidate?”
- “There is no Reform or UKIP candidate to vote for so I won’t be voting for any of the parties listed.”
- “Why such poor candidates, Swale is doomed”
Surprisingly, we received very few complaints about the new voter ID rules brought in by the 2022 Elections Act. Meanwhile, complaints about voters not needing ID have, naturally, disappeared.
Things could be better
This being said, some users always suggest ways in which our services could be improved. The most prominent of these are demands for information about town and parish council elections, which we do not at present cover:
- “I am looking for the candidates for Weston super Mare town council elections.”
- “I was looking for the parish election info and this only shows the councillors info (I have 2 ballot sheets to fill in)”
- “You wrongly state that there are two ballot papers. This is untrue. How can I believe anything else on your site?”
Some other suggestions for improvement:
- “It would be great to know what the percentages of votes were last time in a graph or just very clearly/simply - and turnout etc - as I can’t find this anywhere! I think this would encourage people to vote and be able to make more informed decisions about where their vote will matter and make the most impact.”
- “I’d like to know what I’m voting for - local Appleby - what does this mean? Parish councils? What’s their remit and influence? This information would be useful - also to know who has been doing this already (as it’s lovely living here).”
- “I don’t understand why I have three votes”
- “Would like to know who is elected at present and options for change”
With so much written feedback to look through, it’s easy to focus on the negatives. But with over 60% of all our users expressing satisfaction with our services, there’s plenty of praise to choose from, too!
- “This has been the most comprehensive site I’ve looked at. Voting location, ward, candidates and information about them.”
- “I am staggered to learn there are 11 candidates. We have only received info from Conservatives and Labour.”
- “Finding out basic information about local candidates was not easy until I found you”
- “Brilliant site. Links to candidate websites are the killer feature.”
- “I WANTED TO KNOW WHO THE CANDIDATES ARE. Now I know, so thanks a lot.”
- “Great website for people like me who ignore post… oops! Thank you!”
- “I was feeling apathetic and not going to vote now I feel I’ve got to make the effort”
Thanks again to everyone who lent a hand during the election period. We couldn’t have done it without you!