Confused about who to vote for? Well, Votomatic.ie is like an online political dating tool, as it aims to pair people up with the party they are most likely to be compatible with. This is based on the multiple-choice answers you give to statements on topics such as health and political reform on the website.
The free service, which is also available in Irish, says it is impartial. Votomatic.ie has sister sites in the UK and the Czech Republic. Votomatic.ie is based in Dublin, with the team comprising Darragh O’Connor, Michal Boleslav Měchura, Cathal O’Connor, Vinny Keane and Chui-Ting Lee.
Based on the political manifestos of the five major political parties contesting the forthcoming General Election on Friday, 25 February – Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael, Labour Party, Green Party and Sinn Féin – Votomatic.ie has studied each party’s manifesto and says it has “teased topics and questions out of them that make it possible to compare the parties against one another”.
Automatic for the people
The way it works is firstly Votomatic will present about 20 statements on topics ranging from public finances to jobs and investments, the environment, social reforms, health, political reform, foreign affairs and education. You then stake your opinion on the scale between agree and disagree.
Here’s a flavour of the type of statements Votomatic will present you with: ‘The government should renegotiate Ireland’s debt repayments’ or ‘Low paid workers should be protected from pay cuts’.
You tick the box that best reflects your view on each statement. At the end of the process, Votomatic will compare your answers with the policies of the five largest parties contesting the election, and will tell which ones agree with you most.
On the Votomatic website itself, it says that “based on recent policy announcements and clarifications from various parties”, Votomatic has “readjusted the position of Fianna Fáil on several questions and readjusted the position of several parties on the Irish language Leaving Certificate question”.
“These changes have been projected retrospectively into all cumulative statistics, including the total tally you see on this page,” according to the website.
Votomatic says it gives people the chance to learn something new about themselves.
“What will a right-wing voter think when he or she finds that they are actually more in agreement with left-wing parties, or vice versa? We want Votomatic to encourage voters to think critically about any existing party loyalties they may have and, as much as possible, to base their final decisions on objective facts,” according to a statement on the site.
Other parties left out
Explaining why it chose to leave out other parties, Votomatic says it “would not be able for it because reading, re-reading and analysing party manifestos is a tedious and time-consuming process. That is why we have decided to only cover those parties that already have seats in the Dáil. We are aware that this is a little unfair but our decision is motivated by practical limitations, not by any particular ideology.”
It says that any party represented on Votomatic has the right to appeal.
“If you believe we have misrepresented one or more of your policies, contact us."
Ballotbox.ie – open for symbolic votes
Meanwhile, for Irish people living outside of Ireland, Ballotbox.ie is now accepting symbolic votes, allowing those living abroad to have their say.
Ballotbox.ie will now remain open until Friday, 25 February at 10pm, due to increase in demand, according to the website. Only those living outside of Ireland will be able to cast a ballot. The results will be published this weekend.
Reynolds, a former producer on Newstalk’s Breakfast Show, currently works in TV production in Canada.
Byrne founded and edited State magazine, was a reporter and later news editor on Vincent Browne’s Village magazine and then became a producer on Newstalk radio’s Breakfast Show. He’s now working in TV in Canada.
McCarthy has been dabbling in computing since 1970. After a career working at IBM he set up his own independent consultancy Arkaon in 1995. He has built many nationwide networks and designed databases.
Ballotbox.ie says it has no political affiliations.
“This project is self-funded and run entirely by volunteers,” according to the website, which is being run out of offices in Dublin and Toronto.