• Archives
  • Categories
  • Why Vote Compass doesn’t work for me

    2019 - 09.21

    Patrick Batchelor’s Vote Compass result shows his views are closer to the Greens, but he is a Labor member.Every election I take the ABC’s Vote Compass survey, and every election it tells me to vote for a party I don’t support.
    Nanjing Night Net

    I believe we should invest more in public transport, public education, and public healthcare. I support marriage equality, drug law reform, and the humane treatment of refugees. When it comes to WestConnex the only thing I want in my backyard are solar panels and maybe some kale plants. Put succinctly, I’m a rabid inner-city leftie. But in the world of Vote Compass, there is only one answer – I’m a Green.

    The problem is, I’m not a Green.

    I’ve been a Labor Party member for more than 10 years and have volunteered for my two local candidates at every state and federal election since.

    Yet Vote Compass keeps telling me I’m a Green. And I’m not alone. All my fellow Labor volunteers from the state seats of Balmain and Newtown who have taken the Vote Compass survey have experienced the same frustrated bewilderment when told they should vote for the party they are campaigning against.

    So what is the problem?

    The first issue is how the responses to the Vote Compass survey are calculated. Responses are graded against each of the three parties’ state platforms. There is the erroneous assumption that voters living in the inner city who support one of the two major parties, vote for state party platforms without taking the candidate’s personal views into consideration. This is a misleading assumption. It assumes that major parties have a one-size-fits-all platform, ignoring the fact that local candidates represent a diversity of views within a larger coalition.

    A Labor or Liberal candidate contesting an inner-city seat will almost certainly be far more progressive than their respective parties’ state platforms. This also neglects the ability of these candidates to push progressive policy from within their own party caucus.

    Online surveys of this style are far more effective in a presidential-style electoral system where you directly elect a leader and can assess their individual platform. But in a Westminster system like ours, in the lower house, you are not voting for the premier, you are voting for your local member.

    Vote Compass is arguably better suited to the upper house, where voting above the line is essentially a vote for the party’s state-wide platform. But this still doesn’t account for the fact that progressive Labor voters are being identified as Greens.

    This is because Vote Compass fails to assess the level of the voter’s pragmatism in achieving policy outcomes. Even though my responses qualify me as a Green, I’ll vote for my local Labor candidate because I want to see progressive reform implemented, not just feel good talking about it.

    I, like many other inner-city Labor voters, believe a party with a two seat lower house strategy will only ever act as an impotent lobby group to the government of day. Whereas a Labor government, while not always perfect, is the only viable option to deliver actual progressive change.

    But how do you measure this in a question? Perhaps along these lines:

    “Do you believe being part of a party that can form government matters?”

    “Do you think it is important to work with moderate supporters to build a majority coalition to progress policy initiatives?”

    These questions would address, at least partially, one of the main distinctions between a left-wing Labor voter and a Green. If given the opportunity to scale the importance of these questions at the end of the survey, it would hopefully recalibrate my results to reflect my true voting intention.

    The ability to scale which issues are most important to you at the end of your survey is a good concept, but it also has its problems. I identified education and public transport as two of my most important issues. But of course, this made me become more of a Green. While aspects of the Greens transport and education platform might somewhat align with my personal views, the two Greens candidates in Newtown and Balmain would only be elected at the expense of Penny Sharpe and Verity Firth. Two left-wing, progressive Labor candidates and likely transport and education ministers in a Labor government.

    I want to like Vote Compass. I really do. It encourages civic engagement and helps people with one of their most important responsibilities as a citizen. But sometimes an online survey like Vote Compass is about as useful as a quiz figuring out which character from Game of Thrones you are. Or maybe I am just a Green after all. Since when has an internet quiz ever been wrong?

    Patrick Batchelor was a field director during the 2013 federal Labor campaign and the 2012 Obama campaign. He wrote his masters thesis on the Americanisation of Australian election campaigns.

    Follow SMH Comment on Facebook

    This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

    Comments are closed.