What is smartvote Australia? How does smartvote Australia work?
smartvote Australia is an innovative online platform, which matches voters to candidates and parties (running in the 2019 Australian federal elections) that share their policy positions. smartvote Australia gives users access to first-hand information collected from political parties and candidates. It allows users not only to reflect on their own political positions, but also to learn about the views and political programmes of the parties and candidates. Furthermore, it allows them to find out which of the parties and candidates correspond best to their own political profile. The questionnaire includes 35 questions that cover a broad spectrum of political issues. The questions are answered by candidates and parties as well as users. The results are based on the 35 questions and show differences and similarities between the positions of the political parties and/or candidates and the users of the site. It is important to note, that the goal of smartvote Australia is not to encourage users to vote in a certain way, but rather to invite them to seek out more information. To learn more about how smartvote Australia works, see the methodology.
How was the questionnaire developed?
The main criteria for the selection of questions are:
- they are concerned with the current political issues in Australia;
- they do not favor one or more political party(s);
- they do not allow for multiple interpretations;
- they have a general or specific character (a mixture of both types of questions is desired);
- they deal with only one subject;
- they fit the design of the smartspider. For more information, see the methodology.
How are the candidates’ and parties’ answers and policy positions determined?
All candidates and parties running in the Australian federal election 2019 were contacted several weeks before the election by smartvote Australia and given the opportunity to complete the questionnaire. Candidates and parties that submitted answers have a political profile on the smartvote Australia website and can be matched with users. Labor and the Liberals submitted material, but did not provide precise answers to all of the questions. Therefore, with their permission, the smartvote Australia team coded their answers to those questions based on the comments they submitted and, when necessary, with other sources. These two parties also elected to have their party answers applied to all of their candidates. The answers and statements of the Labor and Liberal candidates are therefore the same as their parties' answers.
How are the results calculated?
On the smartvote Australia website users answer the exact same questionnaire that candidates and parties have already answered. smartvote Australia compares their answers with those of the candidates or parties by calculating the euclidean distance (the straight-line distance between two-points in a multidimensional space). As a result, smartvote Australia presents to each voter a specific ranking of all participating candidates or parties in their electorate. Those candidates or parties with the best matching are ranked at the top of the list. The more questions a user answers, the more precise their matching will be. For more information, see the methodology.
How should I interpret the matching score?
The results are based on a geometric matching. Therefore, the value cannot be considered directly as a proportion of the questions in which a user is absolutely in agreement with the answers of a candidate. Therefore, a match of 70% does not mean that a candidate has given exactly the same answer as the user for exactly 70% of the questions.
How does weighting answers affect my results?
Users have the opportunity to weight their answers, which will be considered when calculating their results. This allows users to indicate which topics are more or less important to them. If a user gives a question a plus sign, then the answer counts twice in the calculation of the matching results (+ = 2). If a user gives a question a minus sign, it counts as if the answer were half as important (- = 0.5). For more information, see the methodology.
How long will my results be saved? How can I access them again in the future?
The answers that a user gives are saved on the computer's local storage. As long as the user does not delete the local storage, the user can revise their results at any time. Another option, if you would like to save your results for later reference, is to send your results to yourself via email on the results page.
How can I interpret the smartspider? How is the smartspider calculated?
The smartspider is a graphical visualisation of the political profiles of the candidates/parties and user based on their answers to the questionnaire. Each of the six axes represents a formulated goal in a policy area (e.g. Welfare State, Law & Order etc.) based on at least three questions from the questionnaire. A few questions have been assigned to multiple axes and some questions have not been assigned to any axis. For each axis a value of between 100 and 0 points can be reached. A value of 100, at the outside edge of the spider, represents strong agreement with the formulated goal of the corresponding axis. A value of 0, at the middle of the spider, means that there is no agreement with the formulated goal. The more similar the political profiles of a candidate/party and user are, the more their smartspiders will overlap. For more information on the smartspider and which questions are assigned with which axes, see the methodology.
How can I interpret the smartmap? How is the smartmap calculated?
The smartmap is a graphical visualisation of the political profiles of the candidates/parties and user based on their answers to the questionnaire. Each of the two axes represents ca. 15 questions from the questionnaire. Each question was assigned to only one axis. Only two questions were not assigned to either of the two axes. The more similar the political profiles of a candidate/party and user are, the closer the points marking their positions on the smartmap will be. The horizontal axis represents the classic economic left–right dimension, which focuses on the role of government intervention in the economy. The vertical axis represents social liberal-conservative dimension, which focuses on the role of government in holding up traditional values and institutions. For more information on the smartmap and which questions are associated with which axes, see the methodology.
Why are there no results and answers for some parties and candidates?
We contacted all parties and candidates prior to the election and gave them the opportunity to answer the questionnaire and participate in smartvote Australia. Candidates were either contacted via their parties or through publicly available email addresses. All parties and candidates that completed and confirmed their answers to all the questions in the questionnaire, are included in the results. Parties and candidates that have completed and confirmed the questionnaire are not included in the results. The answers and comments of the Labor and Liberal candidates are the same as their parties' answers.
What happens to my answers in the user survey?
The answers given in the user survey are anonymous and will not affect your results. They will be used at the aggregated level by the Australian National University for research purposes. For more information, please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org.
Is smartvote Australia associated with any specific political parties, candidates, etc.?
No, all organisations involved in the development and operation of smartvote Australia (e.g., the Australian National University and smartvote/Politools) are non-partisan and non-profit organizations.