The Australian National University (ANU) has launched the ACT election edition of smartvote – an online tool that lets voters compare their views with candidates.

Smartvote works by analysing candidate answers to 32 questions posed by researchers from the ANU School of Politics and International Relations and Australian Studies Institute across a wide range of policy issues.

By answering the same questions, voters are matched to candidates in a more sophisticated way. This matching is shown as a ranked list and through visualisations.

Comments on each question are also available to help voters understand a candidate’s position.

This latest version of smartvote will give voters better insight into the distinction between individual candidates rather than the party they represent.

“Canberrans are political by nature and inherently interested in their candidates and who they are voting for,” Dr Jill Sheppard, from the ANU School of Politics and International Relations, said.

“This is crucial information in the context of the ACT electoral system, where voters not only have a choice between parties but also have a choice between multiple candidates from the same party.”

The COVID-19 context requires election-relevant online information to be readily available to voters. Smartvote will aid this by bridging the gap between voters and candidates.

“smartvote Australia is a continuation of the University’s path-breaking work on elections and political behaviour,” lead researcher in the ANU team behind smartvote, Professor Patrick Dumont said.

“smartvote helps cut through the rhetoric and negative campaigning to offer a deeper level of issue-by-issue analysis and comparison-not just of political parties, but of individual candidates.”

“We are empowering voters to make informed choices about who they vote for based on the issues that matter to them, not the agenda set by politicians,” Professor Ian McAllister, another lead researcher behind smartvote, said.

“The only truly democratic vote is an informed vote.”

Try smartvote for yourself here.

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