I HAD A problem in the local elections. There was no one place where I could go to easily compare the 23 candidates in my constituency. For the first time in my life I didn’t vote. I thought to myself: ‘There has to be a better way to make an informed voting decision than simply relying on posters and flyers.’
Those are the words of Keith Moore, co-founder of Smartvote – a website that links voters with candidates who have similar views.
Ahead of the general election, Smartvote asked candidates in every constituency to give their opinion on 30 key issues such as rent, abortion, public transport, health insurance, hospital overcrowding and water charges.
Once a voter gives their opinion on the same topics, Smartvote matches them with the candidates who best represent their views.
The founders of the website, which was launched in Dublin’s Mansion House yesterday evening, have described it as ‘Tinder for politics’.
Moore said every party has answered the survey, and about 60% of independent candidates have responded so far.
Moore noted that similar voting assistance tools are already successful around Europe – for example, Stemwijzer in Holland is used by around 40% of their electorate ahead of polling.
Smartvote was trialled during UCD Student Union elections and the Carlow-Kilkenny by-election. Some 98% of the 4,000 voters who used the website ahead of the by-election said they would use it again for the general election.
Possible coalition indicators
In terms of how each party answered questions about the 30 key issues, Fine Gael matched closest to Labour (same stance on 15 issues) and Renua (11 issues). Fianna Fáil matched closest with Sinn Féin (same stance on 20 issues).
The Anti-Austerity Alliance matched with People Before Profit on 28 issues, the Green Party on 20 issues, the Irish Democratic Party on 18 issues, the Social Democrats on 20 issues, United People on 19 issues and the Workers Party on 22 issues.
The website recently won an Elevator Award from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland.
Smartvote is partnering with the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) to encourage more students to vote. The USI came up with the student-related questions answered by candidates for the app.
More information can be found here.