Estonian-developed electoral compass helps Americans choose next president (2)

Societly voting advice application (Screenshot/Societly.com)
11/9/2015 4:00 PM
Category: Sci-Tech

The software developed for ERR is now used in the United States to help voters learn which of the presidential candidate best aligns with their personal views, values and priorities.

Societly, a voting advice application based on valijakompass.err.ee, launched in the United States on November 9. It uses 20 statements to determine where all 22 presidential candidates stand in relation to the voter's preferences. The compass is available in English and Spanish.

Societly has been co-founded and developed by Kristjan Vassil, a researcher at the University of Tartu, in cooperation with a team of entrepreneurs, technologists and leading political scientists from Europe and the US, including the universities of New York, Stanford, and California at Irvine. Although the organization is coordinated from Los Angeles, technical development is done in Tartu with help from Estonian web developing company Voog.

“Compared to earlier electoral compasses, Societly is technologically more flexible, allowing it to be easily scaled to different countries and languages,” Vassil said.

Societly is featured on the website of Fox News, one of the largest online news outlets in the US. Partnership contracts with other national media channels will also come into force soon.

The underlying software has been used in Estonia for parliamentary and local elections since 2009. So far, the app has reached about 10 percent of the electorate.

According to Vassil, electoral compasses are becoming ever more popular in Europe. “In countries like Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, about one quarter of the electorate use voter advice applications in the run-up to elections,” he explained.

M. Oll

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