Introducing the Elections 2014 site – find local candidates by simply entering your postcode.
Come May 22 this year, many residents in the UK will be going to the polling stations to elect their representative in the European Parliament. Many local councils will also be electing some or all of their councillors, and some areas will also be choosing their mayor or parish/town councillor.
If you are registered to vote, you should receive a polling card through the post. These tell you where and when to go to cast your vote, and which votes you can cast. The polling cards don’t tell you who the candidates are – these are usually finalised just a few weeks before the election.
Some may have already decided who gets their vote. Others will be unsure. I have a party preference based on policies which I broadly agree with, but am by no means a staunch supporter. Voters might also vote nationally for one party, and locally for another – or choose to put their support behind independent campaigners.
Frankly it all becomes a little bewildering, and there doesn’t appear to be a single definitive source of election material. We’ve had flyers from two parties so far and nobody has knocked the door. Websites such as ElectionLeaflets.org attempt to collect flyers from all the campaigns, but they’re by no means comprehensive.
The local council are supposed to provide notice of forthcoming elections on their website, both announcing the election and stating the candidates. In the age of the Internet, this is undoubtedly a good thing – but goodness me, they’re tough to find. Almost all are in PDF, some in Word and more than a few are embarrassingly hard to uncover.
The humble voter – wanting to make an informed decision – is left bewildered. I would dearly love to be proven wrong, but as far as I can tell nobody has created a single source of election candidates. There is nowhere we can go to review the choices and make an informed decision prior to voting.
Presenting my super-duper Election 2014 site. Pop in your postcode, et voila – a list of candidates for local, mayoral and European elections handily presented in (almost) one place.
The caveat is unfortunately something I’m unlikely to be able to fix in a hurry. I would have loved to put all options on a single page but it took nearly two days just to get the links together. Getting all candidates in one big database is going to take weeks of effort, and the elections are little over a fortnight away.
There are a few gotchas. Unfortunately some election boundaries were applied earlier this year and the Office of National Statistics has not yet provided an update (and they tell me it’ll be released ‘around the end of May’ – great). Parish/town council elections are also unlisted but I’ve tried to note them where possible – a high proportion are uncontested anyway.
All in, I think this is a decent step towards my goal. Hopefully other organisations might be interested in picking up the baton in time for the next elections (if they don’t already have plans). At least one possibility is to open the database up to public edits Wikipedia-style, but I think we’ve missed the boat for May 22.
Please, let me know what you think. If you find it useful, interesting or worthwhile please spread the word.