Feeling lost this election? Meet CBC's Quebec Vote Compass

Through a short quiz, the Vote Compass will give Quebecers a sense of which parties they align with. ( - image credit)
Through a short quiz, the Vote Compass will give Quebecers a sense of which parties they align with. ( - image credit)

Quebec's election campaign is officially underway — but where do the major parties stand, especially on the issues that matter most to you?

The CBC Vote Compass is here to help. Through a short quiz, the Vote Compass will give Quebecers a sense of which parties they align with the most on a variety of issues.

Clifton van der Linden, the founder and CEO of Vox Pop Labs — the company that puts Vote Compass together — said the goal is to give voters the tools they need to make an informed decision when they go to the polls on Oct. 3.

CBC put some questions to van der Linden about the tool and how exactly it works. (The interview has been condensed for consistency and clarity.)

How could Vote Compass help me?

Often in the election campaign, public policy can get short shrift. The actual policy positions of parties might take a back seat to leader dynamics or certain campaign events. And even when policy issues are considered, it tends to be a small basket of policy issues that dominate the election discourse.

So it's difficult, I think, for voters to get a more comprehensive sense of the policy landscape.

Actually determining what the parties' positions are on those policy issues is also difficult, because of the rhetoric and the spin that tend to characterize election campaigns. So it's a lot of work for voters to actually find all of this information.

I care about some of these issues a lot more than others. What if it suggests a party because we agree on stuff I don't really care about?

Vote Compass doesn't give users a single answer. It doesn't say "this is who you should vote for." It's not a "how to vote" tool.

The dashboard actually has different measures to show [how you align with parties]. And those might not all give the same results because there are different ways of thinking about how you match with a political party.

How much do you agree on these particular policy issues that are represented in Vote Compass? Or is it a more broad, ideological match? Those different results don't necessarily point towards the same party. They can be different.

Does it take into account things other than policy?

That's a part of the broader sort of discussion around Vote Compass. People don't vote based on their public policy preferences alone, at least not all the time. Not exclusively.

Policy preferences are one consideration in a voter's calculus on Election Day, and we just want it to be an informed [choice].

There's also a leaders module that looks at how you match up with the leaders based on your evaluation of those leaders.

Who makes this? Can I trust that it's unbiased?

Vote Compass was built by a team of political scientists, it's been running for more than a decade — in Canada originally, but now across the world.

We go out and we look at public disclosures and statements made by the parties to determine what the policy issues are in a particular election campaign, and to determine what the policy positions of each of the parties are.

We do this through independent research and through co-ordination with the parties. So our independent researchers go out and determine the party position. The parties themselves give us their sense of what their positions are. Then we work to validate their positions using those two sets of data.

That doesn't mean that we're just a mirror of what parties say. That would detract from our attempts to validate what they say their position is, versus what they've said publicly about their position elsewhere.

I went through the quiz and got my result. Now what?

[Vote Compass] is a starting point to learn about your personal fit in the political landscape. The Compass gives you tons of information in addition to giving you those initial results.

There's tons of information about where the parties stand — what the parties actually said about each of those issues — and it links to where they've said it. So there's lots of opportunity to explore even further.