Why you should use Vote Compass

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What is Vote Compass?

Vote Compass shows you how your views align with those of the candidates running for election.

- Vote Compass

Vote Compass is an interactive, online voting advice application developed by political scientists and run during election campaigns. It surveys users about their political views and, based on their responses, calculates the individual alignment of each user with the parties or candidates running in a given election contest.

- Wikipedia

I first got introduced to Vote Compass in 2016 when discussing the upcoming federal election. At the time, I thought I would vote for the Australian Liberal Party, a right-wing party nominally of social and fiscal conservatism. I had said something to the effect that while I disagreed on some things, overall their policies reflected what I wanted from the government best of the available options. Someone suggested that I use Vote Compass to check if that was true.

I pulled it up on my phone, spent a couple minutes filling it out and thinking through the questions posed, and it promptly told me that the party I aligned with most was the Greens.

I was shocked.

I hadn't even considered voting for the Greens, and even with the benefit of hindsight, I can't pinpoint why. Why was the image in my head of a political party's goals and policy so different from reality? What I want for the country is different from what the party I planned to vote for intends to do.

Now is this media bias? In Australia, we have a problem with media concentration and bias[1], as being brought to light by the work being done by the Murdoch Royal Commission. I think media bias is definitely a significant contributing factor, but it is hard to look back and pinpoint all the factors that influenced my voting inclination at the time. You have family views, education, and more coming into the mix. Even if I could pinpoint all of this accurately, it wouldn't necessarily generalise to people other than myself.

While this experience was slightly confronting at the time, it was invaluable. The most significant impact was questioning my pre-conceived notions about political parties and systems and trying to look behind the curtain a little more. Now I ask a lot more questions, and I am more engaged.

Why should you use Vote Compass?

Regardless of your beliefs and views, I think this tool is invaluable to check that who you are voting for actually have policies that line up with your own, and they are not just coasting on reputation or a name.

Everyone is affected by politics. Some more than others indeed, but I believe that everyone living in a society should take a minimum of interest in how that society is run, both how it affects themselves and others.

If you're eligible to vote in the upcoming Australian federal election, check out Vote Compass before going to the polls. You might be surprised by what you find.

Photo by Parker Johnson on Unsplash.

  1. James Clapper says royal commission into Rupert Murdoch's empire in Australia a 'good idea for the sake of transparency' ↩︎