Every time I go online at the moment, I’m slapped in the face with some infographic or digital countdown clock indicating how long I have until I cast the one vote that will help shape Britain’s political landscape for the next five years.
If you’ve bothered registering to vote, you’ll also be heading down to your nearest church, primary school or other community dwelling to do your civic duty of etching a cross onto a piece of paper and posting it in a box.
For some of you, you’d have seen and heard enough over the past fortnight to have settled on a party and got on with your lives. For others, loyalty or a deeply embedded political gene inherited or nurtured over time will make it nothing more than a reaction but for people like me, that Wednesday night will be a sleepless one!
That’s an over exaggeration as I always get my eight hours but what I do know is that I am currently plagued with indecision and the chances are, I’ll head into that booth on Thursday 7 May still undecided, and I won’t be alone.
Some reports indicate that a third of the British population are suffering from pre-election political schizophrenia – an obvious pun with no offence intended – where they’re torn between one party or another, or in my case, about five.
I struggle with these types of decisions as I continually ask myself questions on whether I am doing the right thing. Do I vote with my head or my heart? Do I vote selflessly or for my own benefit? Do I vote on the one issue I really care about or for a party’s policies more broadly? I’m also weary of backpedaling or what I like to refer to as ‘Clegging’, which is when your vote is rendered useless as the person you cast it for ultimately fails to deliver on any of his or her promises.
To help with my condition, I took a dose of VAAs or Voter Advice Applications as they’re otherwise referred to. Being a millennial, I’m using social media and digital tech to do a lot of the hard work and decision making for me as I would rather gauge my eyes out than read through each manifesto.
First up, and following the trend to Tinder everything, I had a play with PositionDial. PositionDial, as Guardian journalist Carmen Fishwick described it, is sold as a candidate matching app, but in reality it’s a very simple party-matching quiz.
The app asks you a series of questions like, “should we maintain the UK’s nuclear deterrent,” or, “should we abolish inheritance tax”, and you respond by agreeing, disagreeing etc. Sounds pretty standard but as you proceed, a sort of persona vortex begins to shape, which labels you based on your answers. As I continued answering, my political profile formed and at one point, I was as labelled as both “Eco-friendly” and “Militarist”, which seemed like a bit of a paradox.
After completing the task, my matches were presented to me but to my dismay, only 2 per cent separated first and second place, with the third only 1 more per cent away!
Heading down the political rabbit hole further, I turned to my browser for answers and stumbled across Unlock Democracy’s Vote Match. Gamification still played a vital role but they’ve adopted the ‘drag and drop’ method over Tindering, which is more my skill set.
Having placed the issues I cared about into preferential order and selecting ‘England’ as the country I’m voting in, yet another quiz began, all be it with no morphing vortex – cue disappointment. After answering a few questions with a bar asking how much I cared about each issue, my results came in and with it, more surprise as another party, and one which didn’t even feature in my PositionDial top three, took pole position!
Flabbergasted, I put my dwindling faith in technology into the new kid on the block, which worked on both my mobile device and web browser. Verto.vote, brought to you by those clever people at Bite The Ballot, had it all: morphing vortexes, Tinder sliders and questions galore but this clever little fella offered so much more.
For a start, it asks you more than one question on each issue, which helps when defining your political persona. It gave simple instruction and explanations, so those with little understanding of the issues could grasp them. The three vortexes gave you a chance to see the points of view of those from your local constituency and the country at large, so you gained perspective. Equally as important, it provided ‘how to vote’ guides and even picture examples of what you should do to spoil your vote if ‘none of the above’ applies. It also gave the option to share your results through social media, as to encourage others to take the test. Lo and behold, it even found my match, or at least the party I’m currently thinking about voting for.
It’s extremely difficult to stay on top of the latest polling or invest two hours of your time to watch a leadership debate, so if technology can help us better understand our political personas and who to vote for, then I’m all for it.
The truth is, this election is as close as it gets and like it or not, if you want a government that best represents your interests, you’ll have to put down the phone, watch a debate or better yet, take a peak at each of the party’s manifestos, which I’ve conveniently provided links for below (not in preferential order I must add):