2020 Shortlist

The Election Game

Category: Best news application

Country/area: India

Organisation: The Wire

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 5 Mar 2019

Credit: Aditya Jain

Project description:

India, the world’s largest democracy, is a multi-party system. Dozens of parties compete with each other to form the government, and most national parties tie up with each other or smaller regional players to boost their chances of a win. Such tie ups can dramatically alter public sentiment and therefore the election. This interactive empowers the user to play around with the results of the 2014 general election, and to see how shifting alliances may impact the results of the 2019 election. The goal is NOT to predict the election, but to help users understand the possible impact of coalitions

Impact reached:

The interactive offers a deep dive into many prevailing terms and methods used by Indian psephologists, such as coalitions, percentage point change and vote swings. A lot of feedback recieved expressed gratitude for clearly documenting the methods used, and for an articulate visual explanation of phenomnenon that was being popularly discussed by the media ecosystem at that point of time. The interactive also offers a hexmap of the indian ‘electoral college’ that is unprecedented for an ecosystem that still mostly relies on land-area maps. This hexmap was open sourced and shared with members of the indian news community to remix and use.

Techniques/technologies used:

Python and Node were used to scrape and consolidate the data from the Election Commision of India’s website.

CSV spreadsheets were used to validate the data

The Adobe Suite, d3.js, and Observable were used to construct the hexmap

Vue.js supplmented by dozens of libraries including d3.js, was used to build the app itself

What was the hardest part of this project?

One of the hardest parts of this interactive was non-technical research into prevailing methods of psephology in India, such as vote swings. These methods are popularly used but rarely documented so it is hard for a non-psephologist to replicate a psephologist’s findings. After a lot of work we found a process documented offline, refined it and used it to make the interactive itself. The most important part of the interactive is that we document our method at the end of this interactive—for transparency and posterity.

The hexmap was also built painstakingly and manually, by consulting the electoral map of india at each turn and manipulating hextiles in the Adobe suite. All this hard work was open sourced to the community for the betterment of the ecosystem.

What can others learn from this project?

Learning is the raison d’etre of this project. We hope that, through the medium of articulate visual journalism, this project enables a better understanding of the complex workings of the Indian democratic system as well as the prevailing methods in Indian psephology. We believe in the power of learning through playing, and towards that end, the visual interactions in this game reflect immidiate colorful changes. The user is fully engaged in this learning process and is encouraged to play around and experiment. 

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