Using open data to understand voter registration levels

With an election coming up, thoughts turn to registering to vote; campaigns at all levels will start encouraging people to register and participate.

From an open data perspective, the we want to know what could be learnt about electoral registration from the data held locally or in national sources and could it be used to help increase registration levels?

A sub-set of that question was then ‘how can we understand which areas have higher or lower levels of registration in Bath and North East Somerset?’.

This post intends to show it is possible (and reasonably easy) for anyone to run a quick analysis to answer these questions, provided the local authority is willing and able to release some electoral registration statistics.

We were able to achieve this to a small geographical level and publish some findings reasonably easily and it should be easy for any local area to repeat this.

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Why I stopped worrying and learnt to love local geography.

I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity recently to talk with friends at Bath:Hacked about local geographies. This was in part to advertise the upcoming Boundary Review of the area, but also a chance to reflect on the many ways we slice and dice the local authority area.

This was something of a semi-structured ramble through geographies against the ONS’ rather wonderful hierarchical representation of  statistical geographies.

In practice, particularly when thinking about any locality, its geography is intertwined with its history, its natural and ecological setting, its psychogeography (if you’re into such things) and so forth. But those caveats notwithstanding, it was a fun exercise.

Download the slides here.





Top 20 Datasets for UK Local Government.

I thought

was an interesting thought piece. Could we even identify them, let alone publish them? Here follows a very quick rapid reflection on it…

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We need to talk about (the small-area) Brexit (voting data)

The BBC recently published a piece on small area referendum voting data. The information was gathered, through Freedom of Information requests, from less than half the local authorities (acting as ‘designated counting areas’) who administered the referendum. It’s a rather problematic piece of work.

This analysis is riddled with errors; there could be evidence of illegal practice; there are clear opportunities to improve practice around election data and the implications of this release have relevance to other realms of government data.

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