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United Kingdom

Elections Data (UK0069)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: United Kingdom – Third National Action Plan 2016-18

Action Plan Cycle: 2016

Status: Inactive

Institutions

Lead Institution: Local Government Association

Support Institution(s): Department for Communities and Local Government, House of Commons; Democracy Club, Democratic Audit, Democratise, LGiU, mySociety, The Open Data Institute

Policy Areas

Capacity Building, E-Government, Legislation & Regulation, Open Data, Subnational

IRM Review

IRM Report: United Kingdom End-of-Term Report 2016-2018, United Kingdom Mid-Term Report 2016-2018

Starred: No

Early Results: Did Not Change

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Access to Information Civic Participation , Technology

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion:

Description

Objective: To simplify and improve how the UK collects and publishes election data to enable greater use and reuse of structured information by government and civil society.

Status quo: Currently, there is no standard data structure for reporting election results. This means that to aggregate election results requires obtaining non-uniform, often unstructured data from each publishing authority - this is a highly resource intensive process. Local authority returning officers currently have a statutory duty to publish local and national elections on local authority websites. This activity currently takes place in a piecemeal way from one organisation to another with no official guidance or common practice to publish such data in any particular style, format or web location. The Electoral Commission guides that administrators must give public notice of the name of each candidate elected and of the total number of votes given for each candidate (whether elected or not), together with the number of rejected ballot papers as shown in the statement of rejected ballot papers. Whilst this approach allows scrutiny and review at the individual organisational level, much manual effort is required in finding the local published webpages and then to collate data from every publishing source to create a national overview. The current practice is difficult, labour intensive, time consuming and often error prone. Substantial savings, better data discovery and data reuse is possible if electoral administration departments can be encouraged to publish their data to a simple consistent form which can be read by humans and machines.

Ambition: The vision is to work with all interested parties to agree a simple, minimum burden process and data standard to introduce consistency of data availability across the local government sector. Publishing election results in a consistent way will assist those who need to quickly understand the political landscape after an election and encourages other third parties to develop apps and other analysis services to help to inform the public faster about the overarching outcome from elections. It will also promote wider engagement and outreach with innovative application development and scrutiny by the electorate. It is our aim that by 2020, all election results will be reported digitally using a standard, machinereadable and open standard.

IRM End of Term Status Summary

7. Elections data

Commitment Text:Working with interested parties from government, Parliament and civil society, we will develop a common data standard for reporting election results in the UK faster and more efficiently and develop a plan to support electoral administrators to voluntarily adopt the standard.

Objective:To simplify and improve how the UK collects and publishes election data to enable greater use and reuse of structured information by government and civil society.

Status quo:Currently, there is no standard data structure for reporting election results. This means that to aggregate election results requires obtaining non-uniform, often unstructured data from each publishing authority - this is a highly resource intensive process. Local authority returning officers currently have a statutory duty to publish local and national elections on local authority websites. This activity currently takes place in a piecemeal way from one organisation to another with no official guidance or common practice to publish such data in any particular style, format or web location. The Electoral Commission guides that administrators must give public notice of the name of each candidate elected and of the total number of votes given for each candidate (whether elected or not), together with the number of rejected ballot papers as shown in the statement of rejected ballot papers.

Whilst this approach allows scrutiny and review at the individual organisational level, much manual effort is required in finding the local published webpages and then to collate data from every publishing source to create a national overview. The current practice is difficult, labour intensive, time consuming and often error prone. Substantial savings, better data discovery and data reuse is possible if electoral administration departments can be encouraged to publish their data to a simple consistent form which can be read by humans and machines.

Ambition:The vision is to work with all interested parties to agree a simple, minimum burden process and data standard to introduce consistency of data availability across the local government sector. Publishing election results in a consistent way will assist those who need to quickly understand the political landscape after an election and encourages other third parties to develop apps and other analysis services to help to inform the public faster about the overarching outcome from elections. It will also promote wider engagement and outreach with innovative application development and scrutiny by the electorate. It is our aim that by 2020, all election results will be reported digitally using a standard, machine readable and open standard.

Milestones:

1. Develop a draft schema and publishing process for consideration, refinement and agreement by interested parties - particularly data publishers, election management system (EMS) suppliers, data consumers

2. Use the draft data standard for real by gathering local elections results as they are announced

3. Develop guidance materials and a support programme to assist Election Services Departments to participate

4. Data consumer groups to trial early use of the standard - even to the extent of manually re-working published data into the standard themselves to demonstrate benefits

5. Adoption by the suppliers of EMS systems to provide auto-extraction of local election content into the standard format

6. Develop online data search, validation, harvesting and aggregation tools to assemble local data into combined regional and national elections results register

7. Encourage an initial pilot of local authorities to trial data output in the standard form - using May 2016 local election results. Aim for 20-30 participants

8. Encourage wider take up of the process in the 2017 local elections. Aim for 100-120 participants

Responsible institution: Local Government Association (LGA)

Supporting institutions: Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government, Cabinet Office, Government Digital Service, Electoral Commission, Association of Electoral Administrators, House of Commons Information Services, Plymouth University Elections Centre, Democracy Club, Democratic Audit, Democratise, LGiU, mySociety, The Open Data Institute, suppliers of the key electoral management systems (EMS.

Start date: May 2016

End date: June 2018

Commitment Aim:

Election data laws are outdated and there is no consistent or common approach to collecting election data, especially at the local level. Currently, laws governing elections in the UK ask only that notices of results be placed in a public place. This means that election results are placed online in various forms (as PDFs or scanned images) and there is no consistent means of publishing them.[Note 60: Interview with Tim Adams, Local Government Association, August 2017.]

While national elections are relatively well analysed, results are inconsistent and slow for local elections (at the parish, district or county council, as well as for mayoral and police commissioner elections).[Note 61: In the UK, local government is divided into parish (village level), district (town or sub-regional), and county council (regional), with other elections for local elected mayors across 25 areas and 31 elected police commissioners – Gov.uk ‘Understand how your council works', https://www.gov.uk/understand-how-your-council-works ] The publication of consistent data on local elections would mean local elections are reported in a simpler, more efficient and more open way.

Status

Midterm: Limited

The commitment was behind schedule at the end of the first year. Two rounds of consultations led to an agreed common standard for data collection.[Note 62: Tim Adams, ‘Consultation No1: Summary of key contributions to the Elections Schema consultation', http://e-sd.org/fmcAY, and Tim Adams, Consultation No2; and Summary of key contributions to the Elections Schema consultation, http://e-sd.org/Rsr9V ] The different bodies broadly agreed on a publishing approach that already exists. Guidance documents and e-education work has also been done.[Note 63: Local Government Association, ‘Local transparency guidance – publishing election results data', http://e-sd.org/vgTJ3; and eLearning modules, Local Government Association ‘Making publishing work for you', http://e-sd.org/zDImh ] The project team at the Local Government Association (LGA) also manually created and published several other sample datasets and made them available for early access and use. According to the government self-assessment, “the LGA is investigating [whether] sample data can be acquired from a few local authorities”.[Note 64: Cabinet Office, ‘Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2016-18:

Mid-term Self-Assessment Report' (UK government report September 2017) passed to author pre-publication. ] In November 2017, the Cabinet Office approved the standard's entry into the H.M. Government catalogue of open data standards.

The constant change due to staggered elections in local government has caused some delay, as agreements and new relations needed to be built and re-built if/when new parties came into power. The General Election of June 2017 also slowed the process.[Note 65: Interview with Ingrid Koehler, LGIU, 2 August 2017.] The commitment stalled in October 2016 due to needed updates to election systems. As of March 2018, EMS supplier Democracy Counts confirmed that they planned to implement the new standard into their system at their own cost. [Note 66: Interview with Tim Adams, Local Government Association, 16 August 2017.] Both the Cabinet Office and LGA were looking into funding.[Note 67: Cabinet Office, ‘Open Government Partnership National Action Plan 2016-18:

Mid-term Self-Assessment Report' (UK government report September 2017) passed to author pre-publication. ] CSOs expressed frustration that the commitment had halted for more than a year after such hard work and agreement.[Note 68: Interview with Tim Adams, Local Government Association, 16 August 2017; Interview with Ingrid Koehler, LGIU, 2 August 2017.]

End of term: Limited

According to the final UK government update ‘progress has continued steadily since the last report' and ‘the LGA and Cabinet Office have been focussing on engaging with Election Management System suppliers to integrate the standard into their systems'.[Note 69: UK government (2018), 2016-18 Open Government Action Plan: April 2018 Commitment Progress Updates, https://www.opengovernment.org.uk/resource/2016-18-open-government-action-plan-april-2018-commitment-progress-updates/ ] Democracy Counts agreed to integrate the standard at their own cost/risk and a sample is currently being worked on.[Note 70: Interview with Katie Holder and Thom Townsend, DCMS, 8 August 2018.] The remaining suppliers have offered quotes for development costs but have indicated they have no capacity to make progress until 2019.

Did It Open Government?

Access to Information: Did Not Change

Civic Participation: Did Not Change

As the full adoption of the standard and publication of the data has not yet happened (and has a longer timeframe than the two-year cycle), it has not resulted in any changes for improving access to information or civic participation. No new information has been published as a result of the commitment so far and there has not been any greater public involvement.

Carried Forward?

This commitment is not being carried forward in future action plans, although the government has suggested other possible commitments around democratic innovation.[Note 71: UK Government (2018), Consultation draft of the national action plan for Open Government 2018 – 2020, https://docs.google.com/document/d/1XGUs6X8EHSOm00U-rX2_8cAoq7MnDsBjnetQeW0vnzA/edit#heading=h.y5i6179pcs8d%5D Given the longer timeframe, the project will continue past 2019 and into the future.


United Kingdom's Commitments

  1. Grants Data

    UK0090, 2019, E-Government

  2. Public Participation

    UK0091, 2019, E-Government

  3. Open Policy Making

    UK0092, 2019, Public Participation

  4. Open Contracting Data

    UK0093, 2019, E-Government

  5. Natural Resource Transparency

    UK0094, 2019, E-Government

  6. Innovation in Democracy Programme

    UK0095, 2019, Public Participation

  7. Sustainable Open Government

    UK0096, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Local Transparency

    UK0097, 2019, E-Government

  9. Beneficial Ownership – UK

    UK0063, 2016, Beneficial Ownership

  10. Natural Resource Transparency

    UK0064, 2016, Extractive Industries

  11. Anti-Corruption Strategy

    UK0065, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  12. Anti-Corruption Innovation Hub

    UK0066, 2016, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  13. Open Contracting

    UK0067, 2016, E-Government

  14. Grants Data

    UK0068, 2016, E-Government

  15. Elections Data

    UK0069, 2016, Capacity Building

  16. Revising Freedom of Information Act Code of Practice

    UK0070, 2016, Open Contracting and Procurement

  17. Identifying and Publishing Core Data Assets

    UK0071, 2016, Legislation & Regulation

  18. Involving Data Users in Shaping the Future of Open Data

    UK0072, 2016, Capacity Building

  19. Better Use of Data Assets

    UK0073, 2016, Capacity Building

  20. GOV.UK

    UK0074, 2016, Open Data

  21. Ongoing Collaborative Approach to Open Government Reform

    UK0075, 2016, E-Government

  22. Open Government at All Levels

    UK0076, 2016, OGP

  23. Open Policy-Making and Public Engagement

    UK0077, 2016, Capacity Building

  24. Public Sector Innovation

    UK0078, 2016, Capacity Building

  25. OCDS Implementation

    UK0079, 2016, E-Government

  26. Open-Up Government

    UK0080, 2016, Capacity Building

  27. Open Data Plan

    UK0081, 2016, E-Government

  28. Open Data Service

    UK0082, 2016, Capacity Building

  29. Statswales

    UK0083, 2016, E-Government

  30. Data Research Centre Wales

    UK0084, 2016, E-Government

  31. Government Social Research Publication Protocol

    UK0085, 2016, E-Government

  32. Gov.Wales

    UK0086, 2016, E-Government

  33. Code of Practice in Supply Chains

    UK0087, 2016, Labor

  34. Starred commitment National Indicators for Wales

    UK0088, 2016, Fiscal Transparency

  35. Starred commitment Well-Being Duty

    UK0089, 2016, E-Government

  36. National Information Infrastructure

    UK0042, 2013, Records Management

  37. NHS England Website and Network

    UK0043, 2013, Health

  38. Revised Local Authories Data Transparency Code

    UK0044, 2013, Capacity Building

  39. Transparent Social Investment Market

    UK0045, 2013, Open Data

  40. Manage and Capture Digital Records

    UK0046, 2013, Capacity Building

  41. Starred commitment Cross-Government Anti-Corruption Plan

    UK0047, 2013, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  42. Starred commitment Company Beneficial Ownership Information

    UK0048, 2013, Beneficial Ownership

  43. Access to Police Records

    UK0049, 2013, Justice

  44. Transparency in Construction

    UK0050, 2013, Infrastructure & Transport

  45. Legislative Openness

    UK0051, 2013, Beneficial Ownership

  46. Whistleblowing

    UK0052, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  47. Open Contracting

    UK0053, 2013, Open Contracting and Procurement

  48. Open Contracting Scotland

    UK0054, 2013, E-Government

  49. Starred commitment International Aid Transparency

    UK0055, 2013, Aid

  50. Health Care Data

    UK0056, 2013, Health

  51. Open Policy Making

    UK0057, 2013, E-Government

  52. Sciencewise

    UK0058, 2013, E-Government

  53. Publication of Draft Legislation

    UK0059, 2013, Legislature

  54. Opendatacommunities Programme

    UK0060, 2013, E-Government

  55. PSI Re-Use Directive

    UK0061, 2013, Legislation & Regulation

  56. Starred commitment Extractive Transparency

    UK0062, 2013, E-Government

  57. Ensuring a Clear Process to Support Reduction in Collection of ‘Unnecessary Data’

    UK0024, 2011, E-Government

  58. Developing Data.Gov.Uk and Identifying Other Digital Channels to Support Users

    UK0025, 2011,

  59. Evidence and Databases Behind Policy Statements

    UK0026, 2011, E-Government

  60. Data Underlying Surveys

    UK0027, 2011, E-Government

  61. Examining Ways for Improving the Use of Existing Published Data

    UK0028, 2011, E-Government

  62. Stimulate the Market for Innovative Use of Open Data

    UK0029, 2011, Open Data

  63. Spend up to 5% of Budget Support on Accountability

    UK0030, 2011, E-Government

  64. Include the OGP Eligibility Criteria to Determine Readiness for UK Budget Support

    UK0031, 2011, Aid

  65. Publish Aid Information from All ODA Government Departments

    UK0032, 2011, Aid

  66. Use a Single Domain for Government Services

    UK0033, 2011, E-Government

  67. Mandate ‘Channel Shift’

    UK0034, 2011, E-Government

  68. Go Online for All Consultations

    UK0035, 2011, E-Government

  69. Develop Practical Guidelines on Departmental Access to Internet and Social Media

    UK0036, 2011, Civic Space

  70. Open Data and Application Interfaces in Ways That Encourage Businesses

    UK0037, 2011, E-Government

  71. Create Cross-Government Standards on APIs

    UK0038, 2011,

  72. Establish Standardised Formats for User-Satisfaction Data

    UK0039, 2011, Records Management

  73. Provide Government Documents in Open Standard Format

    UK0040, 2011, E-Government

  74. Implement Crowd-Sourcing and Engagement Processes

    UK0041, 2011,

  75. New Power to Secure Release of Valuable Datasets

    UK0001, 2011,

  76. New, Higher Cost Cap for FOI

    UK0002, 2011, Right to Information

  77. Meaningful Disincentives

    UK0003, 2011,

  78. Maximum Time Limits

    UK0004, 2011, Right to Information

  79. Altered Procurement Rules

    UK0005, 2011,

  80. Mandating Phased Introduction of ‘Public by Default’

    UK0006, 2011, E-Government

  81. Formalising Public Data Principles

    UK0007, 2011, Records Management

  82. Having in Place an Open Data Compliance Monitoring Process

    UK0008, 2011, Records Management

  83. Making Clear the Minimum Citizens Can Expect on Publication and Quality of Data

    UK0009, 2011,

  84. Ensuring a Line of Continuous Improvement for Public Service Providers

    UK0010, 2011, Open Data

  85. Encourage Continuous Improvement

    UK0011, 2011, Records Management

  86. Setting Out How Citizens Can Challenge Where There Is Failure in the Process

    UK0012, 2011, Public Participation

  87. Establishing an Obligation to Consider and Act on User Feedback

    UK0013, 2011, Public Participation

  88. Making Clear That Licenses Must Cover Free, Commercial Re-Use

    UK0014, 2011,

  89. Merge Information Asset Registers…Into a Single Data Inventory

    UK0015, 2011,

  90. Set Consistent Expectations of the Appropriate Quality of Meta-Data

    UK0016, 2011, Records Management

  91. For Data Co-Ordinated Across Government, Set Definitions

    UK0017, 2011, E-Government

  92. Introducing Corporate Responsibility at Transparency Board Level

    UK0018, 2011, Records Management

  93. Strengthening and Broadening the Public Sector Transparency Board

    UK0019, 2011, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  94. Bringing the Sector Transparency Board Model to Other Parts of Public Sector

    UK0020, 2011, Anti-Corruption Institutions

  95. Reviewing the Existing Governance and Regulatory Model

    UK0021, 2011, Records Management

  96. Establishing a Framework for Public Service Providers Data Inventories

    UK0022, 2011, Records Management

  97. Developing a Clear Methodology to Support Intelligent Inventories

    UK0023, 2011, Records Management