‘Picking your party online – An investigation of Ireland's first online voting advice application’

Published in Published in Information Polity, Vol. 14, No. 3, 2009, pages 203-218.

Abstract: Online voting advice applications (VAAs), which help voters to decide in elections, have become commonplace in many European countries. However, their use and reliability is under-researched. This paper analyses the data generated by a VAA deployed in the run-up to the May 2007 general election in Ireland. The website was designed to allow users to compare their own placement on a number of policy dimensions with those of the main parties competing in the election. We compare the users of the website to the population in terms of their overall demographic characteristics and policy preferences, and examine the extent to which the advice issued by the website corresponded to users' stated voting intentions. The findings indicate that the VAA attracted users that were not representative of the wider population. Furthermore, we find that the supporters of the two main centre-right parties in Ireland (Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael) were less likely to be correctly identified by the application than supporters of the other parties. While VAAs offer the potential to improve the quality of democratic participation, the findings reported here also highlight a number of important challenges.

Full paper available via ISO Press website

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