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
Panel: “EPOP II: Communicating with voters: challenges for parties” Paper available at:

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Impact of voting advice applications (VAAs) on voting behaviour

  1. 1. Voting Advice Applications and their Impact on Elections Andreadis I., Chadjipadelis Th. Department of Political Sciences, Aristotle University Thessaloniki Greece
  2. 2. Voting Advice Applications <ul><li>EU profiler (based on Kie skompas , NL) </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>EP 2009: more than 2.5 millions users </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Votematch (based on StemWijzer, NL) </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Over a million unique users </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Telegraph version had approximately 788,000 visits </li></ul></ul>
  3. 3. Description of VAAs <ul><li>Provides voting advice by matching voters' policy views with candidates' positions. </li></ul><ul><li>Voters express their views on issues that reflect the most important dimensions of political competition. </li></ul><ul><li>A formula calculates proximity of voters’ positions to the positions of the candidates </li></ul><ul><li>The output of the application is a ranked list of candidates according to calculated voter/candidate proximities. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Helpmevote popularity – sample size <ul><li>Helpmevote: Voting Advice Application (VAA) used for Greek Regional Elections of 2010 </li></ul><ul><li>In 20 days ( 18/10/2010 - 7/11/2010) more than 28,000 users </li></ul><ul><li>On the results page users were able to follow a link and participate in a web survey about helpmevote. </li></ul><ul><li>About 5,000 people responded to this invitation. The presented results are based on the responses of these individuals. </li></ul>
  5. 5. Impact on voting choice <ul><li>Depends on whether the VAA user had chosen a candidate before using the application. </li></ul><ul><li>Undecided > VAA can help them learn the positions of candidates and choose the most suitable to represent them. </li></ul><ul><li>Decided > two possible outcomes: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>i) identical voting recommendation > strengthen the user's intent to vote for the preselected candidate </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>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. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 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. 7. Decided voters (61,5%) Agreement by confidence level
  8. 8. Same candidate > Strengthens intention to vote candidate
  9. 9. Different Candidate: level of affection by confidence level
  10. 10. Different Candidate: Follow proposal by confidence level
  11. 11. Implications for parties <ul><li>New, minor parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>opportunity to disseminate their positions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>overcome limited access to traditional media </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>VAA outcome is based only on proximities </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>equal opportunities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Both new and older, well know parties </li></ul><ul><ul><li>reach a particular subset of the electorate with limited political interest </li></ul></ul>
  12. 12. Conclusions <ul><li>VAAs inform citizens about the positions of candidates and parties on important issues of electoral competition </li></ul><ul><li>VAAs help people shape their electoral choice </li></ul><ul><li>VAAs can help undecided voters to choose candidates </li></ul><ul><li>May even influence decided voters by: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>proposing the same candidate and affirming their initial choice or </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>undermining their confidence in their initial selection by proposing a different candidate. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Indications that VAAs can lead to a reduction of abstention rates (needs further research) </li></ul>