How Do We Know?


Think of a number, double it, add your shoe size

How are we meant to understand what the election voting means in this country? Ben Goldacre points out that there is no central or open record of local election results. The Electoral Commission’s website passes the buck to the BBC, where you can find seat numbers for each area, but not how many votes were cast for each candidate. Plymouth University holds an unofficial database of results, and pays people to type them in, charging for access. There’s no open analysis or public record.

It’s impossible to see how people voted in local council elections over the past 10 years, or to compare turnout between different areas. But the problem could be easily solved; the information has all been typed in on local websites, newspapers, etc. A simple solution, common throughout IT, would be a set of invisible tags on all local authority webpages, so that the data can be understood by computers and read by anyone who wants it. It costs nothing, it’s already compulsory for public consultation data, and now there are moves to carry it forward.

2 comments on “How Do We Know?”

  1. Helen Martin says:

    But surely the local papers carry all the results. The Vancouver papers here carry detailed results for the whole province complete with graphs (although not as confusing as the ones I saw on BBC. I’ll admit they’re not poll by poll results, but how obsessive do you want to be? Am I missing something here. I certainly do want to know about the people who were shut out because the poll clerks couldn’t work fast enough. Do employees have the right to a certain number of hours clear so they easily get to the poll?

  2. Mary says:

    As Rory Bremner said on BBC..’The people have spoken, but no one knows what they’ve said!’

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