Free from fear or favour
No tracking. No cookies

General Election 2024: The Technology you Need To Navigate ‘Dirtiest but Most Sophisticated Campaign yet’

A guide to a host of new tech helping voters make smart decisions and see through misinformation

Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage has a drink thrown over him as launches his General Election campaign in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex on June 4. Photo: PA Images / Alamy
Leader of Reform UK Nigel Farage has a drink thrown over him as he launches his General Election campaign in Clacton-on-Sea, Essex on June 4. Photo: PA Images / Alamy

Don’t miss a story

Sign up to the Behind the Headlines newsletter (and get a free copy of Byline Times in the post)

The election is just weeks away and we’ve already seen a host of dirty tricks in what one expert has suggested will be the “dirtiest but most sophisticated campaign so far”.

As campaigning becomes increasing digital, there are a number of new tools to get voters and campaigners through the thick of it.

While both the Labour Party and Conservatives have joined TikTok, and at least occasionally appear to grasp what a a meme is, digital campaigning and election technology goes well beyond social media – it covers voter education tools, social listening tools, and many other categories.

EXCLUSIVEUPDATE

Lib Dem Official Uses Anonymous X Account to Discredit Rivals in Key Battleground Seat

Our investigation into an X/Twitter account which makes regular attacks on the Conservative and Labour candidates in Wimbledon, suggest it is run by former Lib Dem council candidate and prominent activist

To help you make sense of it it all, here’s a rundown of some of the essential tools you need to know about to get a handle on this growing area – and the threats and opportunities it poses.

All these tools and many more are possible to find in The Election Tech Handbook, maintained by the London College of Political Technology at Newspeak House. They’re also running a hackspace every day until the election for technologists interested in building election technology.

In the period since the last election, there’s been something of a quiet revolution in non-partisan tools, pioneered by groups like Democracy Club and mySociety. They give crucial information to those who need it and they’re scrupulously non-partisan. 

One of its most important service is Who Can I Vote For? Deceptively simple, it does just what it says it will: it lets you know exactly who your candidates are based on where you live. It’s based on a crowdsourced list of candidates that Democracy Club puts together because a central list of all candidates standing in the election isn’t maintained by the Electoral Commission.

EXCLUSIVE

Tory Deputy Chairman Jonathan Gullis Accused of ‘Lying’ Over Party’s Association With Convicted Drug Boss

Labour said Byline Times’ findings suggested claims Hussain was not linked to the Tory Party were a “lie”

But knowing who you can vote for matters little if you haven’t registered to vote, which many young people haven’t. There are a large number of tech projects rushing to get voters registered before the application deadline of 18 June.

Just Register shows you how under or over-represented the power of your constituency is using your postcode, in an effort to boost voter registration. Democracy Classroom puts together information for voters specifically targeting younger people.

If you’re not a British citizen, you might assume you can’t vote at all, but that’s not necessarily the case. Many people can vote in at least some elections. Can I Vote? answers that question. Put in your nationality and it will advise which elections you can vote in – Commonwealth citizens in particular are in for a surprise.

Byline Times needs your help to investigate disinformation and electoral exclusion as we head towards the 2024 General Election.

We’re asking for your help to keep track of dodgy campaigning this election, so if you spot anything that bears investigation, please email us at votewatch24@bylinetimes.com.

If you want more insight into what the government actually does, there’s a suite of other tools that bring to life the data they are obliged to publish online.

Open Access UK looks at the often-murky world of lobbying with a dashboard showing who is meeting figures in government, when and for what purpose. You can search by minister, department, lobbying organisation and more. Data comes from the UK Government, where it is reliable, but not presented in the compelling way it is here.

But who to vote for? One project that is looking to help you answer that question is Vote for Policies. It presents a list of policies, without telling you whose they are. At the moment, it is looking for volunteers so that it can quickly turn the manifestos into neutral descriptions as soon as they are published.

How Nigel Farage, Major Media Outlets and Ofcom ‘Normalised Islamophobia and Then Justified It’

Farage would be cancelled if he said the same things about Jews as he does Muslims – yet he gets endless airtime

And even if you haven’t thought about the political parties much, they’ve thought about you. Who Targets Me is one of most important projects going: it tracks the ads that you’re being bombarded with across the internet. It got its start at Newspeak House in 2017, where the election hackspace is now based.

These are worrying times for many when it comes to the accuracy of the information we receive. Full Fact is a team of independent fact checkers who fact check viral images, news stories and politicians’ claims. They also write extensive reports into the state of misinformation, provide briefings on The Online Safety Act and maintain a list of MPs who have not corrected the record. They are currently running a petition to ban politicians from using ‘deceptive campaigning practices’, such as pretending to be your local newspaper and have published a list of minimum standards for manifestoes in the UK.

For those who want a lighter take on misinformation, Double Check is a game in which you hone your skills of noticing when something is amiss. Sometimes, it’s because of pretty evident manipulation of images, but other times it’s much more subtle, like a cropping of an image that misleads as to its real content.

Or, perhaps, you don’t want to have anyone elected for you – why not step into the shoes of a politician yourself? Policy Spin is another game: you play as a politician trying to sell your policies, not to the public, but to that much more difficult nut to crack: the newspapers. In response to whatever policies you come up with, the game uses Generative AI to write hostile newspaper articles, rubbishing your plans. Can you woo the press?

Or perhaps none of these pieces of technology is quite what you’re looking for. Why not make your own? Newspeak House in Shoreditch, London is running a hackspace for all those interested in building election technologies, open every day until the election: electionhackspace2024.uk

ENJOYING THIS ARTICLE? HELP US TO PRODUCE MORE

Receive the monthly Byline Times newspaper and help to support fearless, independent journalism that breaks stories, shapes the agenda and holds power to account.

We’re not funded by a billionaire oligarch or an offshore hedge-fund. We rely on our readers to fund our journalism. If you like what we do, please subscribe.


Written by

This article was filed under