City desk

Introducing: A Tracker Where You Can Check How Your Councillors Have Voted

Have you ever wondered how your local councillors voted on lowering the Clontarf flood wall? Lowering the local property tax? Killing a plan to make the O’Devaney Gardens redevelopment 100-percent public housing?

Now you can easily check on Counciltracker.ie, which we’re very pleased to be launching today.

With the help of a team of volunteers on a recent Sunday, we’ve entered loads of votes into this online database, and you can browse them by councillor (see what issues a particular councillor voted on, and how), by meeting, or by topic area (housing, transport, etc).

Warning though: the website does not include everything councillors have discussed and voted on.

What’s Included, What’s Not, and Why

At City Hall, Dublin’s councillors just mostly shout “agreed” or not to pass an item on the agenda. Sometimes, though, for the votes they want to make sure are on the record, they’ll use their electronic voting system.

We’ve loaded up the vast majority of the votes that councillors have recorded using that electronic system since the beginning of the 2014 council term. We have left off some of the more procedural votes, or those votes that – wrestle as we might – we struggled to match up with what they related to.

There isn’t, yet, a way to suck in the voting data from the Dublin City Council website. So the data on the website has been plugged in by hand.

The sheets we get from the council showing the results of these roll-roll votes mostly don’t say clearly what a vote was about. Instead, they have a couple of words like “Motion No. 35” or “Vote 4”.

Putting the votes in means matching these notes to the more detailed passages in meeting minutes, to explain what the vote really was about. This was often a challenge.

What’s Next

We plan to keep adding votes to this website, once the council sends us vote sheets after each major council meeting. If you’d like to get involved, we’ve a Facebook group going to coordinate and you’re welcome.

We’re also working on improving the site, and we’re open to suggestions. You can take a look at our to-do list, but if you’ve got other ideas, do get in touch.

Please bear in mind we are a really small team, so we’ll do our best to get back to you, but we might not always be as fast as we’d like.

If you don’t live in Dublin and are interested in adding your local councillors’ votes to the website, or using the code to make your own council tracker, please get in touch at info@dublininquirer.com.

The code that powers this site will be open-sourced shortly (once the architecture is a little more firm), and we would love to see other groups or individuals use it.

Lois Kapila portrait
Lois Kapila

Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's managing editor and general-assignment reporter. Want to share a comment or a tip with her? Send an email to her at info@dublininquirer.com.

 

Comments

  1. Log in to leave a comment.

  2. John
    18 April at 09:33

    This article is very biased, how is voting to make sure ODeaveny Gardens is done right killing a plan? The previous development was an anti social nightmare, I’m glad councilors want to do it properly rather than just repeating the mistakes of the past.

  3. Stephen
    18 April at 12:06

    I agree with John.. developments must give an allocation to social and private.. those with mortgage approval need homes too!

  4. Sam Tranum
    18 April at 12:15

    More details here on what happened with O’Devaney and the council’s voting on whether or not it should be 100% public housing: https://www.dublininquirer.com//2016/10/04/odevaney-gardens-100-public-housing/

  5. Seán
    19 April at 11:34

    @John

    The 100% housing plan was killed. Done “right” as you put it (equally as biased as framing any other way as right), would be a different plan.

    I fail to see how that one line shows bias in an article about straight up records of council votes.

  6. steve white
    20 April at 18:54

    so how much more work would it be to list those absent, (also those who are listed as attending the meeting but didn’t vote on that vote)

  7. Pat Coyne
    23 April at 12:57

    Thank you all for the work you put into making, this easy to use tracker, this is the sort of information an individual would be giving the run-around trying to obtain. Let me know where and when you are next inputting data and I’ll sent you all a cake.

  8. Sam Tranum
    23 April at 13:09

    @Pat Coyne: Pat, I’m really glad you like the Council Tracker, and thanks for your kind offer of sending us a cake the next time we get together to add more data to it — we’ll definitely take you up on that! That’s very good of you 🙂

  9. Sam Tranum
    23 April at 13:09

    @steve white: Steve, not sure, we’ll have a think. The vote sheets we get from the council just say how councillors voted, but not why councillors who aren’t recorded as having voted didn’t vote. Separately, there are attendance records for which councillors were at a meeting. But these don’t always match up neatly. Councillors can be listed in the attendance records as having been at the meeting, but not listed on the vote sheet as having voted.

  10. steve white
    26 April at 18:34

    @steve white: Did you look to record any decisions that you may have thought were important that were actually unanimously or passed without a vote ?

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