Voting Advice Applications

  1. Summary

In countries with many political parties, citizens nowadays often make use of voting advice applications, like StemWijzer or Kieskompas in The Netherlands. My research about these tools focuses on two themes: the design of voting advice applications and their effect on citizens' voting behaviour.

My first study with Tom Louwerse demonstrates that the method that voting advice applications use to transform voters’ answers into an advice has a strong impact on the outcome of the test. An analysis of the answers from the users of StemWijzer shows that if answers are processed with an alternative method, many voters would receive a different voting recommendation. This means that the calculation method is an important design choice and developers should carefully decide about the method; so-called two-dimensional maps appear to be problematic. Our second study demonstrates that the length of the response scale also has a substantial effect, although not as strong as the calculation method.

My paper with Outi Ruusuvirta shows that voting advice applications have two sorts of effects on voters: they stimulate electoral turnout and they influence party choice, especially among voters who hesitate about their vote decision. The study with Kostas Gemenis, which makes use of more sophisticated statistical methods (matching analysis), confirms the impact on turnout and we estimate the mobilisation effect for Dutch national elections at about 4 percentage points.

A special issue in 2014 of the journal Electoral Studies, which I co-edited with Joel Anderson and Stefaan Walgrave, brings together six papers that further advance the understanding of the design, purpose, and effects of voting advice applications.

Academic publications

Rosema, Martin, & Tom Louwerse (2016). Response scales in Voting Advice Applications: Do different designs produce different outcomes? Policy & Internet, Vol. 8, No. 4, 431-456.

Gemenis, Kostas, & Martin Rosema (2014). Voting Advice Applications and electoral turnout. Electoral Studies, Vol. 36, 281-289.

Rosema, Martin, Joel Anderson, & Stefaan Walgrave, Eds. (2014). The design, purpose, and effects of voting advice applications. Special symposium in Electoral Studies, Vol. 36.

Louwerse, Tom, & Martin Rosema (2014). The design effects of voting advice applications: Comparing methods of calculating matches. Acta Politica, Vol. 49, No. 3, 286-312.

Ruusuvirta, Outi, & Martin Rosema (2009). Do online vote selectors influence electoral participation and the direction of the vote? Paper presented at the ECPR General Conference, Potsdam, Germany, 10–12 September 2009.

Articles in Dutch Newspapers and Magazines


In 2012, I launched the website KieswijzerKiezer. This site has three aims: it provides an overview of all voting advice applications available for Dutch voters in national and European elections, evaluates their quality, and provides an entertaining test for citizens to find out which application suits them best. The website is in Dutch.

>  Listen to an interview with me about KieswijzerKiezer (in Dutch, NOS Radio, 11 September 2012)

>  Go to the KieswijzerKiezer website