Getting election campaign expenses online

I’ve just put all the election expenses for the main 2 candidates in the fiercely fought Edgbaston constituency online so that people can look at them, post comments and link to them if they need to make a point.

Here’s how I did it:

  • I went to the Elections Office in Birmingham to get a copy of the expenses returns. I’ll blog about this separately. Strangely, I was told that, while they could photocopy the documents, they couldn’t photocopy to PDF because they were “too big”. This exercise is at least in part about demonstrating how easily the returns could be put online.
  • I then photocopied each sheet of the returns to PDF, and sent it to my email. Most relatively modern photocopiers can do this.
  • I set up a new blog using called Edgbaston Election Campaign Expenses (for search engine optimisation) and added that email address to the contributors (in the Manage menu)
  • I forwarded each email to the address associated with that blog (
  • I tagged each emailed document by using a standard header for each email that I copied and pasted – at the end of the header were a series of tags in double brackets like this: ((labour, gisela stuart, expenses, edgbaston)). This makes it easy to find particular types of documents.

That’s it.

I’ve still got a bunch of receipts to put on the blog for Gisela Stuart which I’ll try to do tomorrow. And then it’s Hall Green.

The point of the blog is to help provide some context to the Zac Goldsmith election expenses investigation. We’ll also be digging into these receipts for some investigations of our own.

But it’s also to show how it can be done – if you want to get your own candidates’ expenses online, let me know in the comments and I’ll be happy to help out.

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