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.
UK ELECTORAL DATA REPORT
This research report maps the nature, type and format of current voting and electoral registration data in the UK.
The report is UK-focused but does have broader lessons for other countries too. Further academic and policy work will elaborate on the broader lessons.