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README.markdown

Overview

Alrighty, here's a quick overview. This is a small script designed to spider the Election results website published by COMELEC, where you can find here: http://electionresults.ibanangayon.ph.

If you noticed, it's all in HTML with a combination of Flash charts built with FusionChart (http://fusioncharts.com), which feeds from XML data.

From the website, it's easy to imagine that a program wrote all the HTML files, instead of a person hand-coding all the numbers. And from that, if the files were produced by a software, then a pattern can be determined and a reverse engineer to parse the data is possible.

Requirements

The script is built using Ruby, and uses the following standard libraries:

  • fileutils
  • benchmark
  • parsedate
  • rubygems

Which any vanilla Ruby installation has. Also i'm using Ruby 1.8.7, which is now the default Ruby interpreter for the Ubuntu Lucid (10.4) release. So you might want to use that as well.

Then for the gems, you'll need the following:

  • nokogiri - sudo gem install nokogiri
  • fastercsv - sudo gem install fastercsv
  • typhoeus - sudo gem install typhoeus

These are publicly available gems which anyone can use. Some of these gems require additional libraries installed in your system, like the libxml2, libxslt, libcurl. When you install these gems, it will also notify you either with a message or a horrofic fatal error, if you don't have these libraries.

Usage

You will probably need a mirror of the entire site. I didn't designed the parsing with on-demand downloading. I believe that is just going to take forever to finish.

Anyway, if you don't have the entire site, don't worry, there's actually no need to have anymore, though having it, saves you the time from downloading.

Ok, in a nutshell:

  • Download the files, use the parsed_clusters.csv.gz file as a seed for the list of files to download.

    gunzip var/parsed_clusters.csv.gz var/parsed_clusters.csv
    
  • Then run the download script:

    mkdir electionresults.ibanangayon.ph
    bin/download_clusters electionresults.ibanangayon.ph/ \
                          var/parsed_clusters.csv
    
  • Sit back, relax. From scratch and with a big enough bandwidth, it should take you about at least 8 hours to download everything. The script might stop for some reasons, you can always continue from which batch it last stopped. To avoid gaps, just re-download from one batch before.

    bin/download_clusters electionresults.ibanangayon.ph/ \
                          var/parsed_clusters.csv \
                          200
    

    From my experience, i think that's at least 700+ batches to download everything.

  • After everything is downloaded, run the parse_positions script. This one consumes a lot of memory and CPU usage -- and takes up to 4 hours on a quad-core, 8G machine. So best to go out or watch a movie or something.

    bin/parse_positions electionresults.ibanangayon.ph/
    var/parsed_clusters.csv
    var/all_positions.csv
    var/all_positions_candidates.csv

  • After everything is done, you should have two CSV files under the var directory.

  • Have fun! Be nice, and do something good. :D

Output formats

For the output formats, they are as follows:

all_positions_candidates.csv

Sample:

    7704011,199001,"VILLAR, Manuel Jr B.",NACIONALISTA PARTY,196,28.49%

Format:

    cluster_id, position_id, candidate, vote_count, vote_percent

all_positions.csv

Sample:

    7704011,199001,PRESIDENT of PHILIPPINES,res_199001_7704011.xml,1050334

Format:

    cluster_id, position_id, position_title, xml data file, html id (used
    in the <div id="1050334"> in the HTML file)

parsed_clusters.csv

Sample:

    7704011,res_reg7704011.html,0,res_reg0.html,The
    Philippines,9706000,res_reg9706000.html,III,7700000,
    res_reg7700000.html,AURORA,7704000,res_reg7704000.html,
    DINALUNGAN,7704011,res_reg7704011.html,"CP 11 0031A, 0031B, 
    0032A, 0032B, 0033A, 0033B, 0034A"

Format:

    cluster_id, cluster_html_file, level1_cluster_id,
    level1_cluster_html_file, level1_cluster_name, ... leveln_cluster_id,
    leveln_cluster_html_file, leveln_cluster_name

Scripts

There are 3 kinds of scripts in this package.

bin/parse_clusters

This is used to parse the HTML files to produce the list of clusters and their heirarchy in the region.

Sample execution:

   bin/parse_clusters electionresults.ibanangayon.ph/ \
                      var/parsed_clusters.csv

The mirror directory must exist and contains enough HTML files, like the region, province, town and clusters HTML file to generate the complete list of clusters. You don't need all the HTML files, specially the HTML files per cluster with the vote data.

The second argument is the output CSV file.

bin/download_clusters

If you have an already parsed clusters, like the one that comes with this package, and you don't have a mirror, you can use this script to download the files. This script also supports incremental downloads.

It downloads 100 (configurable) urls at the same time, per batch. Checks if the files were modified since last run and only download updated ones.

This script requires a parsed_cluster.csv file.

Sample execution:

   bin/download_clusters electionresults.ibanangayon.ph/ \
                         var/parsed_clusters.csv 1

1 here signifies the batch. Just in case you want to start downloading in the middle of the entire list. It's optional. If it's not specified, it will start with batch no. 1.

The first argument points to the mirror directory where to check and save the downloaded HTML files. And the second one, is the parsed_clusters.csv. It should exists.

There's already parsed_clusters.csv file that comes with this repo, you'll have to ungzip it before you can use it.

bin/parse_positions

This is used to parse the HTML files and produce the list of positions per clusters, their candidates and their votes. This scripts create two kinds of files, the all_positions.csv and all_positions_candidates.csv file. the all_positions.csv file contains the list of positions per cluster and their position title. The all_positions_candidates.csv file contains the clusters, position_id, candidate and vote count data.

This script requires a parsed_cluster.csv file.

Sample execution:

   bin/parse_positions electionresults.ibanangayon.ph/ \
                       var/parsed_clusters.csv \
                       var/all_postions.csv \
                       var/all_positions_candidates.csv

The first 2 arguments are inputs and should exist already. Depending on how much files you have in your mirror, that's also the amount of data that will be parsed. The last two files are the output files.

What else?

I don't know. The codes published here are given as is. It's good if you can take it, do something with it, improve it, modify it, do whatever you want from it. You'll need to know Ruby, a bit of working in the Unix world (since it uses fork, threading, curl, whatever kind of approach). No plans to support other OSes, but you're free to hack it to make it work. :)

Another thing, this package on purpose don't contain all the parsed data. The generated data is very big. And i don't think i can put them on github. It will probably just overwhelmed this repo.

If you encounter problems, the code is there. Go ahead and read it. If you can't read the code, please have someone who know how to read the code read for you, or better have someone who can use it, run it, produce the data you need do it.

Why do this?

With the first ever automated election, i never expected COMELEC will release the results in a public medium. And since they did it, it was almost automatic that having access to such amount of data is interesting. I can imagine if more people have access to the data, more people can view the data in different perspective. The data don't change, it don't lie. It is as it is, and anyone who has some skills related to parsing CSV, import it to a database (mySQL), can run statistics against it, and see some trends. Instead of giving a few people access to this data, how about the entire country, and everyone who can type a code in a screen can do their own analysis. For me, that's a bit exciting. For sometime, we always wonder how the election turns out in a particular town, what's the vote distribution. It would have been nice if the precinct level where kept as they were, since we could have been looking at a more detailed level of statistics.

Anyway, let's not get over excited ourselves. It took a while to parse the data, and i'm happy i was able to do it. Hopefully, something good will turn out from this. I didn't verify if the data parsed will be accurate, so that's why i'm releasing the code in public. The produced data is good enough for me, if you want it better, then please feel free to change the data.

For the paranoid, this doesn't change any of the election data. It will create a copy of the data that is already published publicly. Nothing it can do to change the data inside COMELEC's servers.

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