Voting in times of crisis Online decision-making aid "VoteSwiper" for the state election
The Lower Saxony state parliament election campaign is entering a heated phase. For the second time, the VoteSwiper is available as an online voting aid for the Lower Saxony state election. The questions were developed by political science institutes of the Albert Ludwig University Freiburg and Technische Universität Braunschweig in a joint project with the VoteSwiper association to assist eligible voters in making their decision.
Voters can use the VoteSwiper to find their party of choice for the state elections in Lower Saxony on 9 October by swiping. 24 parties are running and they have all given their answers to the 36 questions in the VoteSwiper. Interested persons can now check whether their personal political views match the party programmes.
Among other things, users of the VoteSwiper can cast their vote on the questions “Should public transport become free?”, “Should the debt brake be maintained in Lower Saxony?” or “Should Lower Saxony build more liquefied natural gas terminals”. The VoteSwiper aims to make the differences between the parties visible on the basis of the most important political issues in the state.
This reveals major differences in content, but also surprising similarities between the parties. Which parties are particularly similar? And which parties are very different? The VoteSwiper provides answers to these questions.
How the VoteSwiper was created
The VoteSwiper team compiled around 200 relevant test questions from the parties’ election programmes. From these, 60 questions were selected and submitted to the parties for answering. From these, 36 questions were then finally selected. Two criteria are relevant: the differences between the parties and the political importance.
There are particularly large differences between the parties on the questions: “Should Lower Saxony sell its VW shares?”, “Should the use of Tasers by the police be allowed?” and “Should the debt brake in Lower Saxony be maintained?”
For the most part, all parties were in agreement on the question: “Should grassroots sports clubs that have got into financial difficulties because of Corona receive additional support from state funds?” Therefore, this question did not make it into the VoteSwiper.
Users can answer the questions with a swipe to the left for no or to the right for yes and at the end check for a match with the parties standing for election.
The evaluation is done via a mathematical comparison with the answers of the parties to the 36 questions posed. Users can then see the percentage by which their answers correspond to those of the parties. In addition, they can go even deeper and understand how the parties justify the content of the questions.
Explanatory videos for the questions asked
The explanatory videos on the individual questions are a unique feature. The anonymised data is also used by the scientists for further research, for example, to find out which parties are particularly similar or what the approval ratings are for individual topics.
“Our goal is to support voters in their election decision in a scientific and at the same time playful way – and thus also to strengthen political interest and political discourse,” says Prof. Uwe Wagschal from the University of Freiburg.
“The election in Lower Saxony is also a barometer of mood for federal politics. We are hoping for an interim report card for the traffic light government and at the same time are curious to see whether the grand coalition will continue or whether there will be a change of government,” says Prof. Dr. Nils C. Bandelow from TU Braunschweig.
Project manager and board member Matthias Bannert adds: “It is important to us not to leave the voters alone with questions, but also to present the background of the political debates with explanatory videos and texts.”
The VoteSwiper can be used directly on the website voteswiper.org and as an app for smartphones and tablets.