The Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust have commissioned Paul Bernal and I to look at the topic of UK Electoral Data.
The electoral process generates enormous volumes of data.
The widespread availability of the data is important for democratic participation. It enables patterns of (non)participation to be traced and interventions to be developed to encourage turnout – including amongst marginalised communities and disengaged voters. It also enables political parties to reach voters and engage them in democratic dialogue.
At the same time, there are dangers in making electoral data too easily available. There can be a risk of personal data breaches as a result of data ‘honey pots’ that might incentivise hacking. In an age when political parties are micro-targeting voters in marginal constituencies and wards, there is a risk of voter intimidation or attempts at manipulation. Ballot secrecy is also a central principal that needs to be protected. As a result, there is a need for a careful balance in policy to ensure both openness and security.
Get in touch if you have views that you would like to share on the project page on the EIP website.