Who is contesting elections in your ward? This online tool helps you find out

A new online tool has been released to help voters familiarise themselves with who is vying for their votes as well as under which party or independently.

FILE: Voters being assessed before they can cast their votes at Rantailane Secondary School, in Ga-Rankuwa on 19 May, 2021. Due to COVID19 regulations and the space of the voting station, only one voter is permitted at a time. Picture: Boikhutso Ntsoko/EWN.

JOHANNESBURG - Ask any eligible voter to name every single candidate contesting local government elections in their ward and you're unlikely to get an answer.

While posters and door-to-door campaigns are the best way for candidates to make themselves known to voters, this approach is only limited to a handful of parties.

A new online tool has been released to help voters familiarise themselves with who is vying for their votes as well as under which party or independently.

Durban-based Open Cities Lab, a non-profit open and non-partisan organisation, developed the My Candidate portal in the run-up to the 1 November polls.

The portal is a collaboration between Richard Gevers (Open Cities Lab leader), Matthew Adendorff (head of Data Science at Open Cities Lab), Adi Eyal and JD Bothma (from OpenUp), Paul Berkowitz (who wrangled data from the IEC), and Jodi Allemeier.

"Adi Eyal and I were at a community evening at Codebridge in Cape Town before the 2016 elections and were frustrated by the lack of info on candidates and difficulty in finding out who was running to represent you in your area.

"So we had the idea and put something very simple together with help from Matt ahead of the 2016 elections, but it was only live the day before and it had little traction," Gevers told Eyewitness News.

"Although a scary approach, the feedback and support from democracy fans has helped us fix bugs and get a minimum level of usability to at least meet the most central need - to know what your options are for voting in the current elections and a simple google search on their names, their age and other wards they may be running in."

The team believes residents should know their representatives and what they stand for, and whether they will be able to create positive social impact in their ward and municipality.

Gevers said in future, they'd love the IEC to take it on as an official tool on its site because My Candidate is an open-source project, which means while Open Cities Lab maintains and improves it primarily, other developers (and others) are welcome to contribute ideas and improvements.

Give the portal a try below.

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