Vote Compass is an election literacy application designed to spark discussion on issues and engage voters in the electoral process.
By filling out a simple questionnaire, you can compare your views on the issues to the positions of the major Ontario 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 Ontario Votes 2011.
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.
Clifton van der Linden, University of Toronto
Director of Analytics
Peter Loewen, University of Toronto
Associate Directors of Analytics
Yannick Dufresne, University of Toronto
Gregory Eady, University of Toronto
Director of Research
Jennifer Hove, University of Toronto
Project Development Officer
Kelly Hinton, Mowat Centre
André Blais, University of Montreal
Elisabeth Gidengil, McGill University
Richard Johnston, University of British Columbia
Neil Nevitte, University of Toronto.
Ontario Steering Committee
Cameron Anderson, University of Western Ontario
Christopher Cochrane, University of Toronto
Elizabeth Goodyear-Grant, Queen’s University
Jack Nagler, Managing Editor, CBC Radio News
Marissa Nelson, Managing Editor, cbcnews.ca
Kristin Wozniak, Research Manager, Audience Research Department
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
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.
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 mapped 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.
According to Elections Ontario, there are 21 registered political parties in the province. Why do only four political parties appear in Vote Compass?
Vote Compass has two criteria for determining the inclusion of parties within the application:
i) A party must have a fully-developed platform to be included in the Vote Compass application. Vote Compass uses party platforms to derive positions. In order for Vote Compass to properly calibrate a political party, a party must have a fully-developed platform. Many of the registered parties are single-issue parties and / or do not have a platform that is sufficiently developed so as to meet the Vote Compass criteria for calibration.
ii) A second requirement for party inclusion in Vote Compass is that the party run a candidate in every riding of a given election.
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 are my results on the graph titled "How You Fit in the Political Landscape" (two-dimensional plane) different that those on the bar graph titled "How Much You Agree with the Parties" or the bar graph titled "How You Rate the Leaders"?
In some cases, users will appear to be more in line with one party on the two-dimensional place and more in line with a different party on the bar graphs ("How Much You Agree with the Parties" and "How You Rate the Leaders"). This is a normal and expected result. These three sets of results are designed to provide three different ways for users to interpret their results:
a) The two-dimensional graph ("How You Fit in the Political Landscape") measures where users stand on a general two dimensional political system (e.g. looking at both the economic and social approaches);
b) the bar graph ("How Much You Agree with the Parties") measures how much you agree with the particular issues Vote Compass chose to ask about; and
c) the leaders graph ("How You Rate the Leaders") assesses which leader you find to be the most favourable. The two-dimensional plane and the 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 policy issues 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 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.
Why when I respond "Strongly agree" or "Strongly disagree" to all the questions do I end up in the centre of the graph titled "How You Fit in the Political Landscape" (2-D plane)?
Half of the Vote Compass questions are framed as right-leaning, and the other half as left-leaning. This is a standard technique used in questionnaire design to help avoid, what we call in the business, "acquiescence bias." If a respondent selects just one response category throughout the entire questionnaire, he or she is essentially specifying a right-leaning position to half the statements and a left-leaning position to the other half. These cancel each other out and the user ends up close to the centre of the two-dimensional plane.
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.