Residents association taps 'voter compass'

On Sunday, November 13 a “voter compass” will show levels of agreement on major issues at Compare how NSV, NPA, COPE, Vision, Green and de-Growth stand on issues.

Cheryl Rossi, November 9, 2011
Vancouver Courier

West End resident Sukhi Kambo found CBC’s Vote Compass for the May federal election so helpful that she contacted the West End Residents Association about developing a similar tool for the upcoming Nov. 19 civic election.

According to Christine Ackermann, the president of WERA, Kambo, who works as a research scientist at St. Paul’s Hospital and declined to speak to the Courier, wanted a tool that would inform users of the stances of the different municipal parties.

WERA leapt at the challenge. “It’s really important to engage people. When you talk to people about voting, it’s either they’re really gung ho about it, or they’re just, you know, nothing changes, it’s all the same, I’m not going to go vote,” Ackermann said. “And in this climate today of this 99 per cent versus one per cent, we keep thinking what would happen if the 99 per cent all voted? It would be a much different place.”

Only 31 per cent of eligible voters cast their ballots in 2008, down from 33 per cent in 2005. The 2008 turnout was the lowest in 50 years.

According to the Vancouver Municipal Elections 2008 project completed at the University of B.C., voter turnout was as low as 13.6 per cent in some parts of the city. Voter turnout was highest on the West Side. But voter turnout even on the West Side maxed out at 39 per cent.

WERA’s Voter Compass will be posted on WERA’s website,, by November 13.

Visitors select their level of agreement for 30 statements. Each of the included civic parties-Vision Vancouver, the NPA, COPE, the Green Party of Vancouver, De-Growth Vancouver and Neighbourhoods for a Sustainable Vancouver-has indicated its level of agreement for each statement. After all the statements are answered, the Voter Compass tells participants their percentage of affinity for each party. They can also review the parties’ answers and learn how and where to vote.

“Single and dual family homes should include water meters to reduce Vancouver’s water consumptions,” reads the first statement in a prototype of the Compass.

“I would like to see the establishment of a civic department of Environment, Energy and Climate Change,” reads the second.

Ackermann said the compass is meant as a quick hit for those who are undecided or don’t have time to research party policies.

A team of four, including Ackermann, Kambo, a WERA board member and WERA’s web specialist, selected questions based on their own experience and from reviewing party platforms.

CBC’s Vote Compass faced complaints of bias. Ackermann said she isn’t concerned about WERA’s compass receiving the same criticism because the civic parties provided their level of agreement for each topic.

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