I’ve just been on Talkback speaking with Steve Hewlett of the Radio Four Media Show fame and Wendy Austin about the general nature of the election campaign and the role of the Internet. One point I would like to make (and no, I didn’t get to make it), is about the capacity of an intelligent online readership to add significant value to the wider understanding of what’s actually going on.
Last year our readers were able to make intelligent guesses about the outcome of the European elections, because many of you were able to bring us publicly available data from the polling station and add a native understanding of the implications thereof.
Tomorrow Polling Stations will again publicly publish turnout data at three times tomorrow – noon, 5pm and 9pm.
This year and, importantly, in next year’s Assembly elections we aim to be more structured and forward thinking in this area. Over several elections we hope to gather and share public data in way that allows us to generate informed guesstimates on how overall turnout may end up, and delve into the granular detail of specific constituencies and smaller areas with differing demographic profiles.
We absolutely rely on your help in this process. So whenever you are in a polling station we ask that you to record the following information and add it on the relevant blogs that will appear tomorrow:
The specific number of people who have voted at noon, 5pm and 9pm
We have a limited number of polling stations with stronger data from the European election and would appreciate people focusing on ensuring we get figures from them as close to reporting times throughout the day as possible
St Kevin’s Falls Road
St Teresa’s, Glen Road
Cooke Hall, Ballynafeigh
Malvern, Lower Shankill
These are all greater Belfast stations, but of course we are keen to hear from you right across Northern Ireland, not least in the possible swing constituencies of Fermanagh and South Tryone and South Antrim. All we ask that you use the official data (anecdotal stuff we welcome by email, but not as part of this exercise) and provide all the information requested above.
This will be part of a long term and repeated project that could help us to build an interesting picture as we try to build a more public understand of how the real polling progresses. The more people we get involved, the less the burden and the more intelligently we can analysis the data as it comes onto Slugger.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty