Opendata Mini Hackathon on Election was indeed a mini one with around 20 participants and 5 projects on Election data. The hackathon projects made use of available dataset in the election website. There were very few data in the site and those listed were also in pdfs, and in different kind of encoding. One of the interesting datasets is on Election Results of CA Election 2064 http://www.election.gov.np/reports/CAResults/reportBody.php. Interestingly xml version of the data was also made available, which was converted to csv for easy processing and made available to the participants. The xml data includes results for both FPTP and Proportional (PR) system.

FPTP Results data includes the followings information

  • DistrictCode
  • DistrictName in English and Nepali
  • Constituency No
  • CandidateName in English and Nepali
  • Age
  • Gender
  • PartyId
  • PartyName in English and Nepali
  • SymbolId
  • Symbol Name
  • Total Votes
  • Status (whether elected or not)

One of the projects 'Participative Election' tried to see whether the acclaimed 33% representation of women in the candidency met or not. From their analysis 33% women was not present in any parties in FPTP results. Another project 'Election Nepal' by a team of 5 students tried to depict information about booths, the candidates and other useful information. They said that they are currently using the past results data but they should be able to utilize new data once available, their prototype only shows Ilam district. All the projects are listed in http://electionnp.hackdash.org.

The participants were mostly students and from engineering and IT colleges. For few of them, this hackathon was the first introduction to open data. Though they could not rightly blame the agency for the unavailability of the data, they were wondering why the data was not publicly listed. Perhaps they understood the implicit agenda of this mini-hackathon. We want to have more and more students and general public become aware of the need of the data in open format. Some of the data present was also in some unknown encoding, which makes the process even cumbersome. Many claimed that their time was spent (or rather wasted) in the data transformation and cleansing; i would say their time was utilized. I take it as a positive gesture from the participants - they are now beginning to understand the value of data in proper format. Many of them also surfed around the website looking for data; i hope some form of election education was also accomplished.

One of the groups wanted to take their idea beyond hackathon. I am glad to find out that they are in the first year of their engineering study and have plenty of time to work on their projects; they may take this project further as part of their college projects as well. Being engineering student myself, i know that there's scarcity of ideas for the college projects while you are in the college, our academic courses somewhat limit our understanding of the bigger and important issues around us. The events like these are definitely benefiting the students to think beyond their studies and colleges. Some students came to me and requested to continue such events in future as well. They happily accepted the fact that their participation in hackathons today and in the past have helped them a lot in learning and networking.

There's another interesting datasets on current voters information here http://www.election.gov.np/EN/bbvrs/index.php. The election commission has maintained all the information of the existing voters in the website. I can find about my information by first selecting the district, vdc/municipality, ward and then election centers in case of municipality. It's quite cumbersome to search through the website, first of all it's slow and then it uses some form of javascript table to render table. One of the groups actually tried to make use of this information in their project 'Voter Information System', however they got stuck at the first step - how to scrap the data and then convert it to usable format. The data is in Unicode (nepali) and it doesn't render well (probably problems with the computer as well). They got confused when they start to get unicode characters like \u0928\u0902 \u091b\u093e\u0928. As a part of the mini-hack, i am trying to pull all those data, so far i am able to get the list of districts, vdcs, wards and election centers https://github.com/anjesh/election-voters-scraper is still trying to pull the data from the election website. My next plan to transliterate to English and then make the election centers data available in csv format in github. I wonder if it would be wise to scrape the voters names as well, though they are all listed in the election website. 

You may see some of the snaps from the day here https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151583668252294.1073741833.95147447293&type=1