During the 2012 presidential campaign in the U.S., it was easy to hyper-focus on our own election issues and to ignore elections in the rest of the world. But even if you wanted to find out how many people voted—and for which parties–in, say, the 2012 Ukraine election–you’d have a hard time getting the details. Now, there’s a site called Election Passport, where you can dig deep into the data from 80 countries.
Launched in August 2013, Election Passport is an online resource offering free access to a rich database of international election results. The site’s goal is to enable researchers and students to engage in high-level analysis of elections on countries for which data are not easily available.
From Andorra to Zambia, this site provides unusually complete data sets that include votes won by very small parties, independents, and frequently, candidate names that are difficult to locate. As an ongoing project, additional elections will be regularly added.
For most countries, especially those with elections held using the single-member plurality or block vote systems, the data include candidate names. The data are unusually complete for all countries, including very small parties and independents.
They’re not kidding about this being a research site, by the way. The data is presented raw, in Excel spreadsheets, whose headings you need to study closely if you want to get a handle on what it all means.
My own, quick, superficial dip into the website offered up some interesting tidbits. For example, in Ukraine, voters over the years have had the option of casting their ballots not just for the “Communist Party of Ukraine,” but also for groups known as the “Ukrainian Sea Party,” “Forward Ukraine, “The Peasant Party,” and even the “Fewer Words! Election Bloc.” [Ah, the Monty-Pythhon-esque joys and variations of the parliamentary system. But I digress.]
Here’s another example: On the spreadsheet for Malaysia’s 2013 election for its House of Representatives, I found out that of that country’s 13,268,002 registered voters, 11, 257,147 cast ballots. That’s an 80 percent turnout, which puts the U.S. to shame.
Kudos to the American University political science professor—David Lublin—who created the site. Perhaps it will encourage citizens, students, reporters and researchers to look beyond the U.S. and become more aware of and knowledgeable about the wider world beyond our much-too-chauvinistic borders.