The Vote-o-matic 2010

Last week I stumbled across this spreadsheet, which had been put together by a bunch of Internet types. It is basically a list of all (or most) of the Australian political parties, a stack of policies, and how those parties feel about those policies.

This was something I had been wanting to compile at elections past, with a view to trying to do something useful with it. As with many things I have wanted to do, I never found time, so I was very happy to see someone else had done most of the hard work.

I thought it would be an interesting experiment to see how closely my personal preferences on all these topics aligned with these parties, so I threw together a little webpage which I dubbed (in a fit of originality) “Vote-o-Matic“.

Basically, you just select whether you oppose or support a particular policy, then hit the submit button, and the system simply calculates how many hits you get with each party. It is nothing fancy and people certainly shouldn’t treat it like a major feat of engineering; it was hacked together in about an hour late one night after a game of football.

It is very simple, though after sharing it around with a few people, it became clear that something like this could be a useful tool. Several people have volunteered some great ideas, and – if time permits – I hope to implement them in “version 2.0”. For example, a major flaw of the system at the moment is it gives more weight to parties that have more known positions on policies, simply because there’s a greater chance you’ll have matches with them. Having some sort of weighting would help mitigate that problem (or, alternatively, representatives of all the parties could contact the spreadsheet maintainers and get their positions listed so the data is complete).

While I hope that people don’t really use this to decide who they should vote for, I hope it helps to give people more information about our great country’s political parties. I know several people have been surprised to see how closely their preferences match one party over another (“hey, maybe I /am/ a solicalist!”).

I hope that people use this as an excuse to do some more in-depth research about who they should be voting for, rather than basing their decision on whatever single emotionally-charged issue they happened to see covered on TV.

As mentioned on the Vote-o-matic page I am happy to listen to any and all feedback and will reply to whatever I can (if you include an email address!); I’ll action any reasonable suggestion I can as well.

If you haven’t seen it, you can access Vote-o-matic here: