Aftonbladet’s Election Results Graphics of the Swedish Elections 2022
Entry type: Single project
Publishing organisation: Aftonbladet
Organisation size: Big
Publication date: 2022-09-11
Authors: Johan Ekman – data journalist
Daniel Kozlowski – designer
Ulrika Andersson – developer
Magnus Flyckt – developer
John Carehag – developer
Erik Fried – developer
Rudolf Hersén – developer
The people behind this products are The Editorial Tech team at Aftonbladet.
The team consists both data journalists and developers and has as it´s main goal: To stenghten Aftonbladet´s brand through innovate and engaged news formats.
We want to nominate our mobile-first election graphics for the SIGMA Award.
The main graphic page provides an easy-to-use, interactive way to explore and understand the results of national, regional, and municipal elections in Sweden (**link 1**).
The same data and visualizations were then used in another publication (**link 2**), where we guided our readers through the complex realities of three election results in a scroll-based version of our map.
Positive feedback and 7.5 million page views prove the success of presenting the election results. First by exploration, and then by explanation.
Our main election page received an astounding 7.5 million page views in the first three days since launch, which is a testament to the success of our storytelling tools. We provided a clear and engaging service, which helped our readers understand the topic and the results.
One of our readers said about the main page “Comprehensive, user friendly, focused and educational in a way I have never experienced before.” This comment also underlines our newspaper’s mission – to help strengthen Swedish democracy by providing accessible and understandable information about the election results to the public.
The project was a complex build consisting of backend data piping to client-side frontend graphics.
The backend included complex data reformatting, and also config files to provide fast failover alternatives if data streaming failed. It was an event-driven backend based on serverless AWS components (S3, Lambda, SQS) to ensure fast updates, massive scalability, and low response times.
But a lot of data was processed before election night. Historical data was reformatted using Python pandas, and election maps were adjusted to be more user-friendly (for example, removing waterways from polygons, and finding more accurate polygon borders) using the Python geopandas.
Context about the project:
The Swedish elections are known for their complexities, with over a hundred parties participating and different parliamentary logic at play in the national, regional, and municipal elections. With eight parties present in the national parliament, the Riksdag, and different coalitions forming at various elections, it can be challenging for readers to understand the election results.
The design of our graphics guides the reader through the complex reality of the three elections taking place simultaneously and the various coalitions that can form in the different elections.
Our main pages, the election results presentation page (**link 1**), and our explanatory page **(link 2**) are designed to guide the reader through this complex reality and make the information easily accessible and understandable, using the interactive map as a main tool for telling the story of what were the most important results of the election.
One particular context we want to emphasize is the complexity of the election itself. We knew that our readers want to learn the main result on a national level, as well as what their neighbors voted for. National, regional and local votes for the national election is therefore important. But not only that, there are two more elections taking place on the same day – elections for the regional and municipal parliaments.
The official data is organized into 6 500 election districts, but depending on which election you focus on, these districts are organized in different ways. We, therefore, had to completely rebuild the structure of the data to be able to provide the user with a seamless experience. When you use the election results webpage, you can use the map to click your way down to a specific district – but on all geographical levels, you can also change which election type you want to see the results of. This was a completely unique feature in Swedish media and a new gold standard.
What can other journalists learn from this project?
In our election graphics project, we published two main presentation pages.
The main one was the General results page (**link 1**), where readers could find their own local results, and explore the results as they wanted – an interactive and playful presentation of the results. Its design is meant to encourage the reader to explore the results. This page answered the questions “What are the latest results?” and “How did people vote where I live?”
The secondary publication (**link 2**) consisted of a storytelling version of our election map. Here, the readers are instead presented with a story about the election – and are guided through the most important takeaways from the election. The data is the same (election results data), and the tools are the same (same map, same graphs), but here the reader can no longer explore the data. Instead, through scrolling, we guide the readers through the most important stories of the national and various local elections of 2022. It answered the question “What happened?” and “What was important?”
In other words, journalists can use our election results graphics as an example of successful interactive visualizations of data – where state-of-the-art graphics can be used in various ways and provide the reader with a general overview of a complex story, as well as the possibility to explore the data exactly as they wish.