Title: Voting advice applications and party choice: evidence from smartvote users in Switzerland

Authors: Andreas Ladner; Jan Fivaz; Joëlle Pianzola

Addresses: IDHEAP, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland ' IDHEAP, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland ' IDHEAP, University of Lausanne, Lausanne, Switzerland

Abstract: Online voting advice applications (VAAs) have become popular across Europe with millions of voters using them during electoral campaigns. Despite their popularity, little is known about their impact on their users' electoral choices. Based on survey data from voters using the Swiss VAA smartvote, we present findings on the direct impact on the actual votes of VAA users and whether the voting recommendations led them to adapt their previous vote choices. Our findings suggest that there is a tendency toward swing voting among smartvote users, most prominently among younger voters. Moreover, we find that smartvote users who were very surprised by the outcome of their voting recommendations were also more inclined to change their party choices. Furthermore, we examine the directional change of the initial voting preferences of those voters who stated that the tool had influenced their voting decisions. Our findings are valid only for a self-selected sample of smartvote users; thus, we discuss necessary steps for improvement in future VAA research.

Keywords: e-democracy; VAAs; electoral choice; Smartvote; voting recommendation; decision making; swing voting; voting advice applications; Switzerland; national elections; electoral behaviour; electoral impact; election campaigning; internet; voting aid application; electronic democracy; electoral campaigns; younger voters.

DOI: 10.1504/IJEG.2012.051303

International Journal of Electronic Governance, 2012 Vol.5 No.3/4, pp.367 - 387

Received: 10 Feb 2012
Accepted: 19 Sep 2012

Published online: 04 Jan 2013 *

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