Voting Advice via Internet

Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) have become a central feature of today’s politics. They are used by almost half of the electorate prior to elections. Our current knowledge about the uses and effects of these tools, however, is limited. Research suggests VAAs affect the intention to cast a vote at all, and can affect what people vote. It is far from clear, however, which types of citizens are affected by VAAs, and to what extent their political attitudes and intentions are based on political literacy, on an increased understanding of the political landscape. In addition, insight is needed into the extent to which form and content features of VAAs affect citizens’ political understanding, political attitudes, and decision-making.

Our research team consists of experts from two universities, bringing together expertise from political science and communication science (Amsterdam University) with linguistics, document design and survey methodology (Utrecht University). By cooperating with a leading VAA builder (KiesKompas), and a city council (gemeente Utrecht), this project brings together different stakeholders of VAAs and a wide range of expertise and experience concerning VAAs, elections and thinking about our democracy, which produces new theorizing as well as ‘science for policy making’. The research project is tailored to the NWO ‘Begrijpelijke Taal’-program in its focus on how text (form and content) and reader characteristics interact, and how (political) understanding is related to attitudes and intentions, situated in a research context with high societal impact.

For a Dutch description of the research project, please click here.

Bregje Holleman is the project leader of this NWO project, which was funded between September 2012 and September 2016. Holleman and Kamoen are still working on the subject.