This is the first in series of blogs looking at voter engagement in the run up to the 2014 National Election next month.
Our first focus is the online voter questionnaire On the Fence, launched at Massey University, Wellington on Friday, 8 August. Since then it has been popping up all over social media, particularly amongst those aged 18-25. This age bracket was the intended demographic of the website, which with its fun, interactive and sheep-themed design, aims to engage more youth in politics and encourage higher youth voter turnout on 20 September.
The website was developed by three students (Karl Kane, Kieran Stowers and Josh Barr) from Massey’s College of Creative Arts, in conjunction with the university’s Design & Democracy project. The origin of the website is well-documented in its ‘About’ section and disprove any fears that this might be a way for political parties to sway votes.
The website asks the user a series of questions about their opinions on policy issues and aligns these with 1st 2nd and 3rd preference of political parties to support. For those more interested in the details, they can also see a list of each of their answers and which party it most closely aligned with.
The On the Fence developers explain ‘It doesn’t tell you how to vote or who to vote for, but it puts “trainer wheels” on the future for many young people who believe that politics has no shaping influence in their lives.’ And why the light-hearted farm theme that alternate with the political questions? The team explain: ‘The sheep metaphor represents the group mentality and lack of individual responsibility that is especially prevalent in the 18-25 year old target audience – the farm narrative and quirky characters provide a light-hearted look at a serious topic.’
Have a go yourself at http://www.onthefence.co.nz/ and see which parties your views are most closely aligned with.