Vote Compass

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Vote Compass
Vote Compass Logo.png

Vote Compass is an online educational tool that promotes electoral literacy and democratic engagement. The tool allows users to receive information regarding the positions of political parties or candidates for office during a given election. Vote Compass is intended to be designed to provide users with a personalized, immediate, and easy-to-understand assessment outlining how their individual opinions on a sampling of policy issues situate them within a two-dimensional ideological space and vis-à-vis the political parties running for office.

Vote Compass was piloted at the outset of the 2011 Canadian federal election campaign in partnership with the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. It attracted nearly two million respondents during its inaugural five-week run. It has since been commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation for the 2011 Ontario provincial election, the 2012 Alberta provincial election, the 2012 Quebec provincial election, the 2013 British Columbia provincial election, the 2014 Quebec provincial election, the 2014 Ontario provincial election, the 2014 Toronto mayoral election, and the 2015 Alberta provincial election.

Vote Compass was also commissioned by The Wall Street Journal for the 2012 U.S. Presidential election,[1] by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation for the 2013 and 2016 Australian federal election,[2] and by Television New Zealand in partnership with New Zealand Electoral Commission for the 2014 New Zealand general election.[3]


Vote Compass was developed by Clifton van der Linden, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Toronto. It is presently run by van der Linden along with a team of social and statistical scientists from Vox Pop Labs. Political scientists local to each jurisdiction in which Vote Compass is run are recruited as project consultants.

Although inspired by European voting advice applications, van der Linden explicitly rejects this terminology, arguing that Vote Compass was “never intended to account for every variable that influences voter choice and its results should not be interpreted as voting advice.”[4]


Using a Likert scale, users indicate their responses to a series of policy propositions crafted to reflect core distinctions between political parties on prominent issues relevant to the election. Each user is subsequently presented with an assessment of how their aggregated responses situate them in the political landscape and how their views compare with the party platforms. They are then offered the opportunity to explore the party platforms in detail, comparing their responses to each proposition with the party positions.

Propositions are crafted by a team of political scientists according to a methodology specific to Vote Compass. Among the criteria for Vote Compass propositions: they must be crafted so as to discriminate between party positions; they must be clear and accessible to all users; and they must clearly scale on one of the dimensions that structures political discourse in a given election.

The engine driving Vote Compass is a database consisting of hundreds of party calibrations. Each party is coded on each proposition using the same Likert scale that users are presented with. Codes are assigned in accordance with publicly available party texts such as party manifestos, policy proposals, official websites, speeches given by leaders, media releases, statements made in the legislature or the media, etc. The texts deemed most relevant in assigning codes to parties are uploaded to the Vote Compass application and made publicly available, ensuring transparency in the calibration process.[5]

Vote Compass includes political parties that are represented in elected body of a given jurisdiction when an election is called. 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.[6]


Vote Compass faced criticism during the 2011 Canadian federal election campaign for an alleged Liberal bias. The accusation was first made by Kathy Brock, an associate professor of political science at Queen's University, who noted that one could provide identical responses to each proposition in Vote Compass (i.e. answer "strongly agree" to all propositions or "strongly disagree" to all propositions) and would in each case be positioned closest to the Liberal Party in the results.[7][8] This claim was directly addressed by Vote Compass representatives, who noted that the propositions in the application are specifically constructed in such a way as to avoid acquiescence bias and that the result described by Brock was arrived at by gaming the system.[9] Vote Compass also released analyses of the data it gathered from the federal election,[10] which have further negated efforts to discredit it.[11][12] It is widely speculated that suspicions of bias were fuelled by Sun Media in an effort to promote its anti-CBC agenda and the concurrent launch of its cable news channel.[13][14][15] The criticism appears to have been isolated to the 2011 Canadian federal election edition of Vote Compass and has not been noted in any subsequent editions.[16]

Other criticisms against Vote Compass include the construction of its propositions, specifically that they violate tenets of survey design.[17] Vote Compass has addressed this criticism directly, explaining that "its propositions are not constructed using the same methodological criteria as a conventional public opinion survey because Vote Compass is not a poll, nor does it aim to be one. The propositions are instead crafted to discriminate between party positions on a range of salient political issues, and they are thus necessarily coterminous with the election discourse."[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Vote Compass: Your Place on the Political Spectrum". The Wall Street Journal. 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  2. ^ Green, Antony (2013-03-28). "Introducing Vote Compass". ABC News. Retrieved 2013-04-15. 
  3. ^ "Vote Compass - an online survey for voters". TVNZ. 2014-08-17. Retrieved 2015-07-05. 
  4. ^ van der Linden, Clifton (2011-12-14). "Vote Turnout: Thinking Outside the (Ballot) Box". The Mark News. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  5. ^ "How Vote Compass Works: Quebec general election 2012". Vote Compass. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  6. ^ "Vote Compass FAQ: Quebec general election 2012". Vote Compass. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  7. ^ Butler, Samantha (2011-03-29). "CBC's voter quiz tool flawed, prof says". The Toronto Sun. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  8. ^ Blaze Carlson, Kathryn (2011-03-31). "CBC's Vote Compass accused of bias". The National Post. Retrieved 2011-05-20. 
  9. ^ LaPointe, Kirk (2011-06-21). "Review: Vote Compass survey during federal election campaign" (PDF). CBC Office of the Ombudsman. Retrieved 2011-09-25. 
  10. ^ "Canadian Federal Election Respondent Results". Vote Compass. 2011-12-04. Archived from the original on January 7, 2012. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  11. ^ Bolen, Michael (2011-12-14). "Vote Compass: See The Story Of The 2011 Canadian Election In Two Minutes". Huffington Post Canada. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  12. ^ Martin, Pierre (2011-06-03). "Canada's 'two solitudes' emerge inside the NDP". Toronto Star. Retrieved 2012-12-09. 
  13. ^ Houpt, Simon (2011-04-04). "Sun burns CBC in bid to hype tabloid TV". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  14. ^ McGrath, John Michael (2011-04-07). "Is the CBC's Vote Compass skewing left-wing? (Or, Internet survey produces dodgy results. The Sun is there.)". Toronto Life. Archived from the original on May 27, 2011. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  15. ^ Potter, Andrew (2011-04-06). "Sun family values". Maclean's. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  16. ^ Duncan, Zoey (2012-03-27). "CBC's Vote Compass is back for the Alberta election, with less Liberal bias". OpenFile. Retrieved 2012-12-06. 
  17. ^ "CBC's Vote Compass is miscalibrated. Have you noticed? babblers have.". 2011-03-28. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 
  18. ^ van der Linden, Clifton (2011-12-14). "Vote Turnout: Thinking Outside the (Ballot) Box". The Mark News. Retrieved 2011-12-22. 

External links[edit]