The Welsh Government uses Democracy Club’s voter information websites to reach voters with information about electoral reforms.
“[Democracy Club] were one of the best contracts we have been a part of from a really well thought out proposal, to helpful and timely updates and finally an excellent evaluation and report of the work. We found working with you to be a great process, we felt (especially given the timeframe) that the product was excellent and we really value the input you’ve been able to have into our future thinking around this type of work.”
Elections Division, Welsh Government
Wales is at the forefront of democratic innovation in the UK. In 2021, the Welsh Government produced a series of reforms which changed the way people could vote in the forthcoming 2022 local elections. This included an ‘advance voting’ pilot, where some polling stations were open in the days prior to election day to allow people more time to vote. Reforms were also made to the nominations process, with candidates in local government elections now required to declare any political party affiliation they have held in the last twelve months.
The Elections Division at the Welsh Government needed to reach as many voters as possible with information about these reforms. They also needed an accessible method of alerting voters in the pilot areas about advance voting stations, without confusing voters who were not involved with the pilot.
Rather than build their own platform, the Elections Division turned to Democracy Club’s WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk, which already serves a large audience and provides voters with information on elections, candidates and polling stations, via a postcode lookup.
In consultation with the relevant local authorities, we modified our polling station finder to present advance voting information (address, a map, and opening times). Because our system can resolve down to postcodes or even individual addresses, we are able to target voters with a precision and accuracy unavailable to any other digital tool.
At the same time we also updated our candidate database to take account of the statements of party membership on nomination papers. By attaching this information to candidates, we were able to display it on their WhoCanIVoteFor profiles (the data is also free for anyone to access). Finally, we translated our site into Welsh to enable local authorities to share it (by law, all communications produced by the government in Wales must be bilingual). All of these changes were also applied to our embeddable widget.
Our tools were widely used across Wales for the election, with half of all Welsh councils and three of Wales’ four parliamentary parties using them in their communications to voters. Between Monday 2 May and Thursday 5 May, we processed 126,647 postcode searches from Welsh voters. Our end of project report was praised by the Elections Division team, who have used it to inform their future work on election information.