"We can't allow things that are inaccurate to stand." — The Word of Our Dan, February 19, 2008.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Elections Dannystan rides again

As happened after the 2007 election, and as happened after the 2011 election, Elections Newfoundland and Labrador, for some inexplicable reason, took the full nine months given to it under statute to publish the "book" containing poll-by-poll results of the latest provincial election.

This length of time to publish such detailed results is entirely out of line with the practice in every other province; each of which, with the exception of PEI, has more polling stations, votes, parties, and candidates whose vote tallies need counting and verification.

This corner is not going to link to that "book".

Why not? Because for equally inexplicable reasons, Elections NL has published a PDF "book" that clocks in at an absolutely staggering 218.9 megabytes in size.

Try downloading that in Makkovik.

That bloated file size, incidentally, runs counter to the provincial government's own web-publishing standards, which state:
Compression and optimization techniques should be used to keep file sizes small. This includes all files which are delivered to the web browser, such as html/css/scripting files, images, audio and video files, and document/application files (pdf, word, etc.)

By way of comparison, here are the file sizes for the PDF version of the last six provincial election results. The first two of these (1996 and 1999) are simply black-and-white graphical scans of a printed copy, because apparently computers and internets and digital pre-press and so forth didn't exist in the mid- to late-1990s.

To their credit, Elections NL did, for the first time ever, publish the detailed results on-line in a machine-readable format. (Zipped Excel file link.)

To their debit, each electoral district is a separate page. Sheesh.

And, not for the first time, the "book" of detailed election results was not actually published for more than a month after the date which the "book" itself bears:

But wait! There's more! The PDF version was not posted to the internet for computers for more than two weeks after the date on which the incredibly bloated PDF was generated using InDesign:
The poll-by-poll data itself has existed in its final form for months — at least since early June, if not before. For reasons that remain mysterious and unique to Elections NL, it was not made public until now.
Again, this bears repeating and underlining: just because the statute gives you a nine-month limit in which to do something for the public's benefit, does not mean you have to take all nine months.
The acting Chief Electoral Officer also alludes to the forthcoming report on candidates' expenditures. If past shoddy practice at Elections NL is anything to go on, the financial returns relative to the 2015 general election campaign, and political contributions for calendar year 2015, may be published by December. (Next door in Nova Scotia, the 2015 financial figures, which incorporates many more data points than the comparable NL reports, were published in June.)
If the provincial government is looking to engage in a little democratic reform, as promised at para 1.4.2 of their election platform last fall, tightening up the practices of the elections office, which are completely out of wack with comparable practices in every other Canadian jurisdiction, would be a most excellent place to start.



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