Voting advice applications : impact on voting decisions in the 2011 Swiss national elections
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Paper presented at the 62nd Political Studies Association Annual International Conference in Belfast, 3 - 5 April 2012
In most democracies voting Advice Applications (VAAs) advising citizens which candidate or party they should vote for become more and more popular. It is therefore crucial to know more about the functioning and the effects of such tools. After some general remarks about the spread of these tools and their possible effects gathered so far in various studies, this paper presents the latest results from a research conducted in the course of the 2011 Swiss national elections. They confirm that VAAs can lead to better informed voters and are likely to have a positive impact on electoral turnout. Additionally it can be shown that the Swiss VAA smartvote made voters change their voting intention and that they voted for a different party. This was particularly advantageous for the Green Liberal Party. At the moment, only a minority of voters rely on the voting recommendation by smartvote. This might change dramatically with the introduction of e-voting. Once people can vote electronically, there are hardly any possibilities to prevent voters from transferring their selection of candidates based on the recommendation given by a VAA into the official electronic ballot paper. If this is possible, e-voting will become more popular than postal voting.
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