Impact of voting advice applications (VAAs) on voting behaviour
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Impact of voting advice applications (VAAs) on voting behaviour

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Paper for the 61st Political Studies Association Annual Conference, "Transforming Politics: New Synergies", 19 - 21 April 2011, London, UK ...

Paper for the 61st Political Studies Association Annual Conference, "Transforming Politics: New Synergies", 19 - 21 April 2011, London, UK
Panel: “EPOP II: Communicating with voters: challenges for parties” Paper available at: http://www.psa.ac.uk/2011/UploadedPaperPDFs/355_216.pdf

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  • 1. Voting Advice Applications and their Impact on Elections Andreadis I., Chadjipadelis Th. Department of Political Sciences, Aristotle University Thessaloniki Greece
  • 2. Voting Advice Applications
    • EU profiler (based on Kie skompas , NL)
      • www.euprofiler.eu
      • EP 2009: more than 2.5 millions users
    • Votematch (based on StemWijzer, NL)
      • www.votematch.org.uk
      • Over a million unique users
      • The Telegraph version had approximately 788,000 visits
  • 3. Description of VAAs
    • Provides voting advice by matching voters' policy views with candidates' positions.
    • Voters express their views on issues that reflect the most important dimensions of political competition.
    • A formula calculates proximity of voters’ positions to the positions of the candidates
    • The output of the application is a ranked list of candidates according to calculated voter/candidate proximities.
  • 4. Helpmevote popularity – sample size
    • Helpmevote: Voting Advice Application (VAA) used for Greek Regional Elections of 2010
    • In 20 days ( 18/10/2010 - 7/11/2010) more than 28,000 users
    • On the results page users were able to follow a link and participate in a web survey about helpmevote.
    • About 5,000 people responded to this invitation. The presented results are based on the responses of these individuals.
  • 5. Impact on voting choice
    • Depends on whether the VAA user had chosen a candidate before using the application.
    • Undecided > VAA can help them learn the positions of candidates and choose the most suitable to represent them.
    • Decided > two possible outcomes:
      • i) identical voting recommendation > strengthen the user's intent to vote for the preselected candidate
      • ii) VAA does not propose the same candidate > the VAA recommendation could undermine user's initial selection, and if the influence is strong enough, it can lead to change of voter's position.
  • 6. Undecided voters (38,5%) 100 % 467 100 % 1902 Total 94 . 9 % 443 68 . 9 % 1311 Have not selected a candidate after 5 . 1 % 24 31 . 1 % 591 Have selected a candidate after helpmevote % N % N Intention to abstain before Total sample
  • 7. Decided voters (61,5%) Agreement by confidence level
  • 8. Same candidate > Strengthens intention to vote candidate
  • 9. Different Candidate: level of affection by confidence level
  • 10. Different Candidate: Follow proposal by confidence level
  • 11. Implications for parties
    • New, minor parties
      • opportunity to disseminate their positions
      • overcome limited access to traditional media
      • VAA outcome is based only on proximities
      • equal opportunities
    • Both new and older, well know parties
      • reach a particular subset of the electorate with limited political interest
  • 12. Conclusions
    • VAAs inform citizens about the positions of candidates and parties on important issues of electoral competition
    • VAAs help people shape their electoral choice
    • VAAs can help undecided voters to choose candidates
    • May even influence decided voters by:
      • proposing the same candidate and affirming their initial choice or
      • undermining their confidence in their initial selection by proposing a different candidate.
    • Indications that VAAs can lead to a reduction of abstention rates (needs further research)