What is Vote Compass?

Vote Compass is an election literacy application designed to spark discussion on issues and engage voters in the electoral process.

Vote Compass is an election literacy application designed to spark discussion on issues and engage voters in the electoral process.

Developed by a team of academics, Vote Compass is an online tool that shows you how your views on poitical issues positions you in relation to Alberta's major political parties.

By filling out a simple questionnaire, you can compare your views on the issues to the positions of the major Alberta political parties. It takes just a few minutes.

During the recent federal election, CBC's Vote Compass generated 2 million responses from Canadians — and we're pleased to bring it back, with some new features, for Alberta Votes 2012.

How does it work?

Vote Compass asks you questions on some leading political issues. You can also choose to offer your impressions of the major party leaders and the parties themselves.

When you're done, Vote Compass produces three different results: one indicates where you are on the political landscape compared to the parties; another shows you how much you agree with each of the parties; and the third highlights how you rank the party leaders.

About Vote Compass

Vote Compass is a voter engagement application developed by political scientists. Its aim is to encourage discussion on public policy and stimulate interest in elections.

Executive Director

Clifton van der Linden

Director of Operations

Peter Loewen

Director of Analytics

Gregory Eady

Director of Communications

Yannick Dufresne

Director of Research

Jennifer Hove

Project Development Officer

Kelly Hinton

Advisory Board

André Blais, University of Montreal

Elisabeth Gidengil, McGill University

Richard Johnston, University of British Columbia

Neil Nevitte, University of Toronto.

Alberta Steering Committee

Harold Jansen, University of Lethbridge Brenda O'Neill, University of Calgary Anthony Sayers, University of Calgary David Stewart, University of Calgary

CBC Liaisons

Jack Nagler, Managing Editor, CBC Radio News Marissa Nelson, Managing Editor, cbcnews.ca Debra McLaughlin, Senior Director, Audience Research Kristin Wozniak, Research Manager, Audience Research

Brooks DeCillia, CBC Calgary

Mark Harvey, CBC Edmonton

Application Development

Kristen Hevenor, General Manager

Vlad Shalamov, System Architect

Brian Skene, Designer

Marlon Valenzuela, Lead Developer

Amy Tilarso, Interactive Developer, MASH MEDIA

Anthony Cholmondeley, Developer


Matthew McKinney, Managing Director, Canadian Web Hosting

Kings Wong, IT Manager, Canadian Web Hosting


CBC News

University of Calgary Department of Political Science

Centre for the Study of Democratic Citizenship 

You can also indicate which issues are more important to you than others, then recalculate your position in relation to the parties. Using our new results tools, you can go deeper to see how you compare to the parties on each issue — or how the parties compare to each other. And you can read about the parties' positions on each of the issues raised in the questionaire.

The CBC is the site's exclusive media partner, but Vote Compass operates independently. Its questions were developed and chosen by a team of leading academics, including some of Canada's top political scientists.

Read the frequently asked questions below to find out more about Vote Compass — or get started.

NO AFFILIATION: Vote Compass is in no way affiliated with COMPAS Research.

Frequently asked questions

Does Vote Compass tell me how to vote?

No. Every eligible voter decides for themselves which candidate is most appropriate to represent them. The purpose of Vote Compass is to generate interest in elections and to provide information on party platforms.

According to Elections Alberta, there are currently nine registered political parties in the province. Why do only four political parties appear in Vote Compass?

By default, Vote Compass includes those political parties that were represented within a given jurisdiction's elected body at the conclusion of its previous election.  If a political party does not satisfy this first condition, it may also be included if it meets all of the following conditions:  a) it is registered under the jurisdiction's elections commission, b) it fields a full slate of candidates, and c) it has a fully developed platform.

Why does Vote Compass place me closest to a party other than that which I intend to vote for?

Vote Compass is not intended to predict which party a user intends to vote for in a given election. Some users will find that their Vote Compass results do not match their personal sense of alignment with the political parties. The results are not intended to predict which party a user feels that she or he is most closely aligned with; rather it specifies how the user is aligned with each of the political parties on the basis of the questions included in Vote Compass.

What do I need to use Vote Compass?

For best results, please use one of these supported internet browsers: For Windows PC, Internet Explorer 8 or higher, FireFox 3.6 or higher, or current versions of Chrome; for Mac, Safari 5, FireFox 3.6 or higher or Chrome; and Safari for Ipad and Iphone iOS.

How does Vote Compass determine my results?

See How it Works. (pdf)

How does Vote Compass determine the positions of the parties?

Parties are plotted on the Results grid the same way that users are: a party's responses for each question are used to plot it along the social (vertical) or economic (horizontal) scales; taken together those points give the party its position on the grid. The parties' responses are taken from policy statements, party platforms and other source material. The parties were consulted and asked for their feedback by the academic team throughout the process. See How it Works for details.

Is Vote Compass affiliated with any of the political parties?

No. Vote Compass is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organization. It seeks to provide Canadians with an objective, transparent analysis of the political landscape.

Why am I close to a party to whose leader I gave a low rating?

Leader ratings are not included in the calculation of a user’s position in the graph titled "How You Fit in the Political Landscape" or in the graph titled "How Much You Agree with the Parties." Leader ratings are only summarized in the graph titled "How You Rate the Party Leaders," which is also available on the Results page.

Why am I close to a party which I specified that I was unlikely to vote for?

The propensity to vote and election outcome prediction questions in Vote Compass are not used in the calculation of a user’s results. They are for research purposes only.

Why do the graphs show different results?

In some cases, users will appear to be more aligned with one party on the two-dimensional plane and a different party on one or both of the bar graphs. This is a normal and expected result. These three graphs are designed to provide three different ways for users to interpret their results. The two-dimensional graph measures where users are situtated in a general two dimensional political system. The parties bar graph measures how much you agree with the particular propositions included in the questionnaire. The leaders bar graph measures your overall evaulation of the leaders. The two-dimensional plane and the parties bar graph use the same responses to measure different things. The bar graph provides an indication of how much a user agrees with each party on the specific propositions addressed in the questionnaire. The two-dimensional plane is an effort to represent the political landscape, or the ideological space in which voters and parties are situated. The leaders bar graph uses only the responses to the three questions that were asked about the leaders to determine results. The multiple measures reflect the practical reality that a person may agree with certain policies of one party but feel more aligned with the general values of or the leader of another. How an individual reconciles these competing perspectives is entirely up to her or him.

What does the shaded area around my position represent?

In the two-dimensional plane, a user's position is surrounded by a shaded ellipse. This ellipse indicates the range of possible positions a user might occupy in the plane based on her or his responses. Vote Compass provides users with an estimate of their position in the political ideological space, but the more inconsistent a user's answers are within conventional understandings of left-right and liberal-conservative, the more uncertainty there is in the Vote Compass estimate.

The ellipse is calculated based on the standard deviation of responses on the x and y axes. It indicates the consistency of a user's responses relative to the dimensions. If a user's responses are highly consistent, her or his ellipse (and thus the user's range of possible positions on the plane) will be small. If responses are less consistent, the standard deviation (and hence the ellipse) becomes larger. The more inconsistent a user's set of responses, the more statistical uncertainty there is when plotting the user in the graphical representation of the political landscape.