Frequently Asked Questions

What is Vote Compass?

Vote Compass is an online electoral literacy application in which users are invited to respond to a series of questions on political issues in a given election. They are then provided with a personalized assessment in which their responses are compared to those of the candidate political parties. Vote Compass is primarily an educational tool, the central objective of which is to stimulate discussion on issues and thereby promote voter engagement.


Who is responsible for Vote Compass?

Vote Compass is developed by a group of political scientists and overseen by an advisory board comprised of the prominent scholars in the study of electoral politics. See About Vote Compass for more information.


Does Vote Compass tell me how to vote?

No. Every eligible voter decides for themselves which candidate is most appropriate to represent them. The purpose of Vote Compass is to generate interest in elections, stimulate discussion on political issues, and provide information on candidate platforms.


According to Elections BC, there are currently 26 registered political parties in the province. Why do only six political parties appear in Vote Compass?

By default, Vote Compass includes those political parties that were represented within a given jurisdiction's elected body at the conclusion of its previous election.  If a political party does not satisfy this first condition, it may also be included if it meets all of the following conditions:  a) it is registered under the jurisdiction's elections commission, b) it fields a full slate of candidates, and c) it has a fully developed platform.


Why does Vote Compass place me closest to a candidate other than that which I intend to vote for?

Vote Compass is not intended to predict which candidate a user intends to vote for in a given election. Some users will find that their Vote Compass results do not match their personal sense of alignment with the candidates. The results are not intended to predict which candidate a user feels that she or he is most closely aligned with; rather it specifies how the user is aligned with each of the candidates on the basis of the questions included in Vote Compass. Since the questions in Vote Compass are only a subset of the myriad factors that go into vote choice, it is entirely plausible that a user may prefer a party other than the one s/he is aligned most closely with in the Vote Compass results.


What does the shaded area around my position represent?

In the two-dimensional plane, a user's position is surrounded by a shaded ellipse. This ellipse indicates the range of possible positions a user might occupy in the plane based on her or his responses. Vote Compass provides users with an estimate of their position in the political ideological space, but the more inconsistent a user's answers are within conventional understandings of left-right and liberal-conservative, the more uncertainty there is in the Vote Compass estimate. The ellipse is calculated based on the standard deviation of responses on the x and y axes. It indicates the consistency of a user's responses relative to the dimensions. If a user's responses are highly consistent, her or his ellipse (and thus the user's range of possible positions on the plane) will be small. If responses are less consistent, the standard deviation (and hence the ellipse) becomes larger. The more inconsistent a user's set of responses, the more statistical uncertainty there is when plotting the user in the graphical representation of the political landscape.


How does Vote Compass determine my results?

See How it Works.


How does Vote Compass determine the positions of the candidates?

Candidates are plotted on the two-dimensional plane in the same way that users are: by using their responses to the questionnaire in order to plot them on the grid. Party responses to each of the questions in Vote Compass are derived through careful research of the candidate platform complemented by a consultative process between the academic team and the candidates themselves. See How it Works for details.


Why am I close to a party whose leader I gave a low rating?

Leader ratings are not included in the calculation of a user’s position in the two-dimensional plane nor in the graph entitled "How Much You Agree with the Candidates". Leader ratings are only summarized in the graph entitled "How You Rate the Party Leaders", which is also available on the results page.


Why am I close to a party which I specified that I was unlikely to vote for?

The vote intention questions in Vote Compass are not used in the calculation of a user’s results. They are for research purposes only.


Why do the graphs show different results?

In some cases, users will appear to be more aligned with one candidate on the two-dimensional plane and a different party on one or both of the bar graphs. This is a normal and expected result. These three graphs are designed to provide three different ways for users to interpret their results. The two-dimensional graph measures where users are situated in a general two dimensional political system. The parties bar graph measures how much you agree with the particular propositions included in the questionnaire. The leaders bar graph measures your overall evaluation of the leaders. The two-dimensional plane and the parties bar graph use the same responses to measure different things. The bar graph provides an indication of how much a user agrees with each candidate on the specific propositions addressed in the questionnaire. The two-dimensional plane is an effort to represent the political landscape, or the ideological space in which voters and candidates are situated. The leaders bar graph uses only the responses to the three questions that were asked about the leaders to determine results. The multiple measures reflect the practical reality that a person may agree with certain policies of one candidate but feel more aligned with the general values of or the leader of another. How an individual reconciles these competing perspectives is entirely up to her or him.


What browser do I need to use Vote Compass?

For best results, please use one of these supported internet browsers: For Windows PC, Internet Explorer 8 or higher, FireFox 3.6 or higher, or current versions of Chrome; for Mac, Safari 5, FireFox 3.6 or higher or Chrome; and Safari for Ipad and Iphone iOS.


Is Vote Compass affiliated with any of the candidates or political parties?

No. Vote Compass is an independent, non-profit and non-partisan organization. It seeks to provide users with an objective, transparent analysis of the political landscape.


How are the axes of the two-dimensional plane determined?

The axes in Vote Compass are derived by way of a statistical technique that enables the identification of the primary ideological dimensions that structure political debate in a given context. In the case of British Columbia politics, statistical analysis run on a pre-election survey indicated that the two dimensions which underlie the responses of parties and voters are related to social and economic matters. These same dimensions are widely recognized by the academic literature on ideological space in Canada.