Making votes easier to understand

Parliamentary votes (or ‘divisions’ as they’re known in the lingo) aren’t always the easiest things to understand; yet, as we know from our email inbox, they’re often what our users want to know about most.

Supported by a grant from Open Society Foundations, we’re now displaying  MPs’, Lords’ and Scottish Parliament votes on TheyWorkForYou more graphically, making them easier to understand at a glance:

(Click the image to see this vote in situ.)

For a long time TheyWorkForYou would display divisions as a plain list, usually at or near the end of a debate. When a user wrote to ask us how they could see how a specific representative had voted on the issue of the day, we’d point them towards the relevant section of the right page — but of course, it’s much better if you can find the information for yourself.

Things improved a little when we created the Recent Votes page, and separated out information for each vote onto their own pages. At that point, though, we were only displaying votes which counted towards the topics we cover on representatives’ Voting Record pages: in other words, those which helped us assess MPs’ and Lords’ stances on issues such as university tuition fees, fox-hunting, etc.

Now, with this new tranche of work, we’ve been able to make the following improvements:

  • All votes are included on the Recent Votes page, not just ones feeding the voting records.
  • The voting breakdowns are shown graphically, so you can see straight away what the rough proportions were, and to what extent each party’s members made up each side. It should also be easy to see immediately when a representative votes differently to the majority of their party!
  • As we blogged recently, we’re including information on voting for anyone subscribed to MP alerts.

If you’d really like to understand the full context of each vote, we hope you’ll click through from these pages and read the preceding debates.

We hope you’ll now find it a lot easier to understand votes — and this certainly feels like a timely addition, given the interesting voting activity of recent days.

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Image: Katie McNabb


  1. It’s worth adding that, if you’ve provided TheyWorkForYou with your postcode (eg: via the “Does your MP represent you?” box on the homepage), we will automatically highlight how your MP voted (or didn’t vote!) on all voting breakdowns across the whole site.

    So it should be much easier to track where your MP stands on topics you care about, and whether they’re representing your interests in Parliament.

  2. There’s no link on the vote detail page you’ve linked to, to the vote “in context” on the debate page. That looks like an omission since there is such a link on every speech around it