May 2012 English and Welsh local council electoral data
UK Electoral Commission

It’s winter in Canvey Island!

The UK Electoral Commission publishes as open data all reference electoral data after any election or referendum. The data covers a range of areas including electorates, turnout, rejected ballot papers and postal voting figures.

This is great and the data is extremely valuable to gather insight on the political profile and engagement of British people… if only the data was reliable. Clearly, for example, the 2012 council elections data went through too much manual processing, and the name of places like the ward of Canvey Island West in Castle Point, east of England, can get distorted into “Canvey Island Winter” :-(

It doesn’t have to be that way. The Office for National Statistics publishes very well-structured lookup tables that associate unique codes to the wards and enable lookup vs higher level administrative entities such as the Local Authorities the ward belongs to.

If this wasn’t enough, all the Census 2011 open data can be distilled in files ordered by ward codes, hence could be unequivocally associated to the electoral data… if only the Electoral Commission used the ONS codes. Why don’t they, then? Nobody knows… :-(