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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.