The publication of election notices this week fires the starting gun on local election campaigns in many areas with hyperlocal sites often the go-to place for community information.
There’s 27 county councils and eight unitary authorities in England and one Welsh unitary council where people will be going to polls on 2 May. Two mayoral elections will also take place. While it will be seen as a judgement on the coalition government by many commentators, on the ground it can be those local issues and campaigns that determine the outcomes.
So how best to approach the coverage and what help is at hand?
Many of us will be producing guides, maps and all manner of useful information on our own sites so we thought it might be an idea to pool some of that knowledge.
Together with Simon and Sally from OnTheWight, Mike Rawlins and I have started this public GoogleDoc with some of the tools we’ve come across and included some examples of how they could be used in this context.
Please do add your own suggestions to it – maybe this shared resource could even build up over time to form an open source toolkit for elections.
There are various pieces of legislation which cover the reporting of elections. This blogpost by media law expert David Banks written at the start of the 2010 general election covers some of the main ones.
Worth highlighting is this paragraph about the mainstay of elections coverage – the exit poll.
Exit polls. Section 66A of the 1983 Act makes it an offence to publish the results of an exit poll before polling has finished. The reason being if the exit poll reveals a runaway winner it may discourage people from voting an thwart the democratic process. It is also an offence to publish a prediction of an election result if it is based on such a poll.
If you’ve anything to share on these resources, please contact us via the comments below or add it directly into the spreadsheet.