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Friday, May 7, 2021

smartvote launched to inform ACT voters

A new online platform that helps undecided voters align their views with candidates in their electorate has been launched in the lead up to the 2020 ACT Election.

Called smartvote and launched in collaboration with the Australian National University (ANU), the platform asks 32 questions on issues and policies in the ACT election campaign to both candidates and voters to align relevant views.

Candidates can leave comments on each question for voters to access, which Dr Jill Sheppard from the ANU School of Politics and International Relations said helped to distinguish candidates from their parties.

“Canberrans are political by nature and inherently interested in their candidates and who they are voting for,” Dr Sheppard said.

“This is crucial information in the context of the ACT electoral system, where voters not only have a choice between parties but also have a choice between multiple candidates from the same party.”

However, the overwhelming majority of candidates across ACT Labor, ACT Greens and the Canberra Liberals produced identical responses to questions within their parties.

There are also still a number of candidates yet to participate in the questionnaire, with ANU smartvote team lead researcher Professor Patrick Dumont saying the platform had just over 50% of the 137 candidates.

“At the moment, we are still chasing personal details to get in touch with a few candidates at the closing of nominations,” he said. 

“Of the 137 candidates, more than 50% are already on the platform but there are still plenty of candidates filling in at the moment now they have realised it’s live.” 

smartvote is modelled off Switzerland’s online voting platform of the same name, which has been in use in the country since 2003 and in over 250 elections.

The other lead researcher, Professor Ian McAllister, said the platform was an important tool to keep voters informed.

“We are empowering voters to make informed choices about who they vote for based on the issues that matter to them, not the agenda set by politicians,” he said.

“The only truly democratic vote is an informed vote.”

The free platform is available online. Pre-polling started today, Monday 28 September. Election day is Saturday 17 October.

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