Citizens want to know the positions of candidates seeking election. Our Voting Advice Application, smartvote, offers a sophisticated way for voters to know the range of candidates standing for election and for candidates to convey their policy preferences to voters. It builds on the success of a Swiss tool that has been operating since 2003, and was run for the Australian Federal election in 2019 and then the ACT Election in 2020.
Smartvote is a candidate-oriented tool, as opposed to other Voting Advice Applications that code the positions of the main parties competing at the election. Given the candidate-orientation of the tool, voters are provided electorate-specific results: they get results on the positions (and additional information) of the candidates who actually compete in their own electorate. It also means that in electoral systems that use Hare-Clark method (such as the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania), voters get an opportunity to distinguish between the positions of candidates from the same party.
As well as being an outreach and community service activity, smartvote is also a research platform. The data collected will significantly improve our understanding of how preferences and information connect to electoral behaviour and public trust in politics, as well as proposals to strengthen democracy.
Each smartvote application is made possible through the contributions of researchers, students, and technical staff. The team for the 2019 Federal election is listed here, and the team for the 2020 ACT election is listed here.
Each smartvote development is produced in collaboration with media partners. For the 2019 Federal election, we partnered with the Sydney Morning Herald, the Age, and Nine. In 2020, we partnered with the Canberra Times.
Who funds smartvote?
Smartvote is funded by the Australian National University (the ANU School of Politics & International Relations, the Australian Studies Institute, and the ANU Research School of Social Sciences). We are also grateful for donations from the general public to continue our work.