The Data Liberation Project
A few days after the May 6, 2018 parliamentary, the Ministry of Interior (MOI) published the results. The initial results were in a PDF format, with limited information. They lacked a breakdown of participation or voting per district. As an avid analyst with an interest in data and patterns recognition, that was very frustrating.
Fortunately, the MOI released the full results a week later. However, the MOI also published these results in a static PDF format, grouped by the preliminary counting committees, severely limiting any possible analysis and cross linkage.
Consequently, I started working on possible methods to convert and reorganize the data to make it easily accessible, and then cross linking it to gender and sect, to allow a deeper and richer analysis. So I took my home district Saida as a case study and went to work.
The process was divided into three phases:
- First step, converting the static PDFs into machine readable Excel
- Reorganizing the data by neighborhood
- Adding the Sect and gender labels of each ballot bureau, by using the MOI data base.
It took me two weeks to finalize the Saida district (one of the smallest in Lebanon), allowing me to use the newly organized data to write a deep analysis of the district’s results, learning about the turnout and voting patterns by gender and sect. Moreover, the data opened up another level of analysis, such as the linkage between women turnout and voting, and the presence of strong women candidates.
However, the amount of time and efforts the first case study took, convinced me that this should be a larger team effort. I contacted several institutions to propose possible cooperation. The National Democratic Institute (NDI) expressed interest and they offered to support the project, and this is how the Data Liberation Project (DLP) started. After the initial proposal was accepted, I hired several young and enthusiastic experts, organized the workflow, planned the different phases, and prepared the tasks. The Project was launched and we slowly started the conversion and the reorganization of the elections results.
Two months later, the data was finalized, and after a long and assiduous editing and corroborating effort, we submitted the finished project, to the satisfaction of NDI and team.
Consequently, it is my honor and privilege to freely offer the full results of the Lebanese 2018 parliamentary elections, cross checked with gender and sects, for the general public, students, and experts.
The results are availed upon request, via a google drive link, by contacting me directly or by using this email: [email protected]
Finally, I would like to thank the whole NDI team, for their unwavering support, professionalism, and help in completing such an important project, that aim to provide free and open data, considering how hard it is to get unbiased, objective, and solid data in Lebanon. It goes without saying that the project would not have been possible without the young men and women who worked tirelessly for its success, especially Fouad Saoudi and Lana Skaffi, among many others.