Vote Compass is a voter engagement tool designed to get voters more interested in policy during elections. It gives voters the chance to go online, answer questions about their views on a range of issues, and then see where they stand in relation to the political parties in the election. They can also get more information on party policy positions and it gives them the chance to debate and think more about issues in the election. Vote compass is a nonprofit initiative created and managed by Canadian political scientists and run in conjunction with a media sponsor and country based academics, and has been used in other country’s elections including the 2013 Australian elections in conjunction with the ABC; and the 2011 Canadian federal elections in conjunction with CBC.

I am lead academic advisor to TVNZ’s Vote Compass, putting together the team for the first iteration in the 2014 New Zealand election – along with my colleagues Dr Danny Osborne and Dr Lisa Chant also from Auckland, and Professor Jack Vowles (and, for 2014, Dr Maria Bargh) from Victoria University. Both our universities, and the electoral commission, supported the project. It was a major success; it was launched by ONE News on 17 August and discussed on breakfast on the 18 August. New Zealand’s response rate was the highest Vote Compass have ever seen per capita. It had 332,754 respondents by the night of Friday 19 September, exceeding the original goal of 250,000 and demonstrated New Zealanders were ready for new ways to engage in the election. Electoral Commission data revealed that 13,600 people went direct from vote Compass to the elections website, making it the second biggest referrer of traffic after Facebook; and non-voters who gave “I couldn’t work out who to vote for” as their primary reason for not voting dropped from 11% to 5%.

We have since run Vote Compass in the 2017 and 2020 elections.

Vote Compass 2014 Media reports

Vote Compass 2017 post-election academic analysis

Vote Compass 2020 Media reports

Vote Compass and Political Marketing – UoA video

Comments about NZ Vote Compass in 2014

  • Founder and Executive Director of Vote Compass, Clifton van der Linden, is thrilled about how fast this country has been to respond to the survey. He says: “The number of respondents so far has been incredible and it says a lot about the place and potential of social media in contemporary democratic practice. But more importantly, it says that New Zealanders are politically engaged and that they care about how their society is governed. This may seem at odds with what we are often led to believe by recent statistics on voter turnout, but I think that it speaks to the need for new mechanisms by which citizens can engage with government and play a meaningful role in the processes of governance.”
  • TVNZ’s Head of News and Current Affairs, John Gillespie, adds: “We are delighted with the level of participation we’ve seen. It shows voters want to hear about policy over politics. It’s their collective voice that’s the really important one.”
  • ‘Vote Compass is a good talking point. It shouldn’t be taken as gospel, but it does help define what’s important to you in our society.’ (New Zealand Herald Kerre McIvor; Sunday August 24 2014)
  • ‘Well worth doing, and posting your responses…it is an excellent resource’ (David Farrarr Kiwiblog and National pollster, August 18 2014)
  • ‘ ‘added a fascinating layer of commentary and analysis’