100,000 Voters Use UL App
The 2016 election provided voters with an unprecedented level of choice, with several new political parties and over 150 Independent candidates. To help voters with their decision, members of UL's Democratic Performance research group set up the online voting advice application www.WhichCandidate.ie. Run in partnership with The Irish Times and local media outlets, the site was visited by over 100,000 voters over the course of the election campaign.
WhichCandidate was initially piloted for the local elections in Limerick in 2014, and the 2016 general election was the first time it has run on a nationwide basis. The idea behind the site is simple. All election candidates were invited to fill out a personal profile page on the website and to indicate where they stand on key policy issues such as housing, health, taxation and abortion. Some candidates chose to complete the survey personally, while others preferred to have the survey completed by their party. Voters who visited the site could take the same survey (anonymously) to discover which candidates in their constituency best matched their views.
Dr Rory Costello, founder of WhichCandidate.ie says it is designed to meet the challenges of contemporary Irish elections. There is also a significant research dimension to the project. Funded by the Irish Research Council, the site is used to gather data on the views of candidates and their constituents, which the researchers are using to assess the quality of political representation in Ireland.