Summer’s over and the central heating’s on. What have we got to show for it?
- Candidate data. We’ve published a draft ‘build your own’ candidate spreadsheet generator. You can try it out now.
- Election results. WhoCanIVoteFor now displays turnout data.
- Deselected candidates. We now flag candidates who have been dropped by their party but can’t be removed from the ballot paper.
- Democracy Club mailing list. We’re going to try and be a bit better at it. You’ll be able to judge if we achieve this goal by comparing future emails with past ones on our new email archive.
📥 Candidate CSV downloads 📥
One of the things Democracy Club is best known for is our spreadsheet downloads (Comma Separated Value - CSV) of past election candidates - thousands of elections and tens of thousands of candidates, all provided alongside election results, geographical information, and myriad other pieces of data.
Unfortunately, the sheer size of this database has finally gotten the better of us, and the file generation process has taken our site down on multiple occasions over the last few weeks. To prevent this, we’ve removed most of the additional columns of candidate information available on the existing CSV page.
Rather than patch it up again, we’ve decided to use this opportunity to begin a complete rebuild. This is a secret, work in progress update, exclusively available to anyone who clicks this link.
This new interface allows you to build your own spreadsheet, adding columns to the CSV as you see fit. It also allows filtering on ballot paper (regex), election date (regex), party IDs, excluding by-elections, and so forth. The database is updated every fifteen minutes.
Please take a look and tell us what you think. One thing about the free downloads is we don’t really know who uses them. If you are one of these people please get in touch and let us know what you use them for! This will also help us get feedback on future changes to the CSVs.
🧮 Who Can I Vote For: election results and navigability 🧮
Election results have long been a bit of an afterthought on WhoCanIVoteFor.co.uk. Democracy Club began collecting election results back in 2016 - the same year WCIVF launched. But unfortunately, the initial project failed to develop into the comprehensive results service originally envisioned. Fast forward to the 2020s, and we find ourselves with an elections database stretching back to 2010 (or 2016 for local elections), displayed on a site which wasn’t really designed to be an archive.
We began tackling this problem in earnest back in 2021, as part of the site’s redesign. We also took the opportunity to patch up some of the gaps in our results archive, notably the 2010 and 2015 general election results.
Over the six months, we’ve made a series of additions to the site which enhance our results reporting. Most notably, we now publish turnout statistics on ballot pages. We’ve also given some attention to our trusty but neglected results scraper, ResultsBot, which will allow it to collect turnout data in future elections. At the same time we’ve also improved how this information is presented on individual candidate profiles. The past elections table on each profile now gives the position the candidate attained in the election, and, crucially, now links to the ballot in question.
There’s still much we need to do. We remain unable to collect non-First Past The Post election results, nor do we visualise results anywhere to help voters understand council-wide results. We’ve also yet to provide an easy way for voters to access all past elections in their area alone. We hope to use the 2024 elections to keep working on these areas.
🚓 Candidate deselections 🚓
You may be shocked to learn this, dear reader, but sometimes politicians do bad things. If the thing done is sufficiently bad, the politician in question may be kicked out of their political party. Sometimes it’s so bad that they get kicked out of Parliament, an issue we addressed earlier this year. But what happens if they are kicked out before they even get in?
During an election period, such a kicking is termed a ‘deselection: the candidate no longer has the support of their party. However, if this occurs after nominations have closed, the candidate will still appear on the ballot paper under their party’s colours. There’s nothing anyone can do to change this. It’s usually the case that one or two candidates are deselected during each nationwide local election.
Hitherto, we’ve not been able to indicate to voters if a candidate has been deselected. Indeed, it took us a while to decide that we should. Following an approach from a political party, however, we have finally made the change. From now on, deselected candidates will be marked in our metadata and via our API. Voters will be shown a link to a news article explaining the reasons for the deselection. Hopefully you never have cause to see the feature in action!
📡 Better communications 📡
Are you on our mailing list? If you are, you’ll hopefully notice a change in future emails, because we’ve just switched to a new email platform. This might not sound very exciting, but it took us months to complete the move, so it feels blog-worthy. It does mean that you can now relive SoPN days of old by browsing our new online email archive.
We’re using this opportunity to refresh our communications output. Based on some recent conversations with stakeholders, it’s clear that we could be a bit better at communicating exactly what we do. We appreciate that clear and consistent communication is an important part of engaging our community and achieving our goals as an organisation. To this end, we have recently clarified our key messaging on our website. “The most comprehensive election data in the UK.”
We also plan to send more regular newsletters to our mailing list, especially in the runup to the next general election. This will include information as to what we’re working on and how you can get involved, as well as upcoming elections news.
If you’re not on our mailing list, you can sign up using the form in the footer of this website.
Image: Cambuslang Memorial, Rutherglen and Hamilton West Constituency.