[Okfn-ca] [Open Knowledge Forums] [Open Data Index/Global Open Data Index 2015] Election data criteria

Mor no-reply at discuss.okfn.org
Mon Dec 28 12:53:55 UTC 2015

And for the NDI summary - http://blog.okfn.org/2015/12/24/unlocking-election-results-data-signs-of-progress-but-challenges-still-remain/

Posted by Mor on 12/28/2015

*Previous Replies*


I believe that the election system is not the caused to the counting systems that each country is using (or showing). The British system, de facto, does not count votes in the most granular level - i.e - poll stations. Why is this the case? Due to legislation. Why it was done this way? I actually do not know. I do find it very positive that British people trust this counting, however, I don't think it is the most reliable counting of votes (you just need to watch the first season of the Good Wife to understand why...). 

I will leave more to NDI to answer here soon, but I want to flag that if we are doing a global measurement, we need to understand that it can not benefit all countries. We are setting these strict criteria so we can get the data we need globally. In this case, to help others around the world to monitor elections.

Posted by Mor on 12/23/2015

On election data criteria, Oliver Buckley from UK government has more comment, including this point:

> The 1983 Representation of the People Act explicitly requires votes from polling stations to be pooled in the interests of protecting the identity of voters in the event that a candidate receives a very small number of votes.


Looking more at Open Election Data's call for granularity down to polling station, I think it relates to this guidance in Patrick Merloe's 2014 work:

> Tally sheets at intermediate and final counting centers record dis- aggregated votes, as well as aggregated results tabulations, are easily verified, publicly posted and provided to representatives of political parties, candidates, groups supporting or opposing refer- enda or other ballot initiatives, domestic nonpartisan election monitors, news media and international election observers; and Tally sheets from intermediate and final counting centers are posted on the Internet and other public places at an early date.

Leading to stating the it should be down to the polling station level:

>  Do the law and regulations require that a copy of all tally sheets, showing the vote numbers entered from all levels, starting with polling site and including all intermediate levels up to the aggregated totals for each vote tabulation center (i.e., disaggregated results as well as aggregated results) be displayed for public inspection?


However I can't see in the text any more discussion of this, aside from saying that in general a balance must be reached for competing interests and 'privacy' must not eclipse 'transparency'.

His work, like the Open Election Data from OKF just feel like a shopping list of ideals, with little reasoning and pointing to no evidence to back it up.

I'd love to see some actual research in this area, if someone can point us at it, to provide a lot more examples than alluding to a single anecdote from Denmark.

And I think it makes sense for OKF to rejig their scoring next year, so that publishing lots of data, with an open licence, with bulk download, etc, but just not quite as detailed as desired, leads to some points, rather than none.

Posted by dread on 12/16/2015

@Tell10 I have to say that the work in Taiwan appears to be remarkable. Clearly the government has worked hard to go digital and open in lots of these areas and it's paid off in getting the top ranking. No doubt this will bring plenty of more tangible benefits too in going forward.

That doesn't change the fact that the index could do with some tweaking, as you suggest. UK probably feels unfairly knocked down by 10% because the electoral category is questionable. But in fairness it is made up for on the spend data, where the whole criterion is potentially called into question by the fact that hardly any other country doing what UK has done in publishing this sort of data.

So I'm very keen to hear more about Taiwan's open data effort, how it's achieved such improvement over the past year or two and what the rest of the world's governments can learn from it.

Posted by dread on 12/10/2015


I have just heard about your survey as the Taiwanese government has (understandably), been promoting it, today. 

FYI, Taiwan tends not to do too well in International surveys and with a national election coming up on the 16th of January, the government is looking for any good news. 

I must admit the huge jump in places does appear odd. However, when I look at the tables and see the UK's result in RED on the election data criteria, and the decision rationale of the reviewer,  it makes me doubt the whole thing. 

I agree with Dread and Antonioacuna, that it hurts the Index's credibility. 

I would suggest you review that criterion and revise the results, as quickly as possible. 

As for the comparison with Australia, I think that only highlights why you need to change the criterion. There are many differences between the UK and Australian systems - compulsory voting in Australia, for example - but the main differences lie in proportional representation (Australia), versus First Past the Post (UK). Proportional representation requires the use of multiple-member voting districts, whereas First Past the Post results in single-member legislative districts i.e., to elect a person to represent the constituency (local area). Perhaps that is why Australian results are reported at the polling booth level and why the UK doesn't need to? I note that Canada is also First Past the Post and whilst it can produce at polling level, it publishes at the electoral district level. Whatever the differences, I would still have the UK ahead of Russia and Cambodia!

Posted by Tell10 on 12/10/2015

I agree with David and this is something OKF wants to be very careful about.  One thing is taking points off for non-compliance (like granularity below constituency) and another is to null the whole of a country because of one non-compliance (specially one that does not in itself indicates non transparency by default).  There will be very little respect for the index if countries that are known and recognised as following proper democratic processes to come off worse than some with less than transparent political processes, it will undermine how seriously the index is taken in the future.

Posted by antonioacuna on 11/26/2015

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