By KASEY MCDONNELL

 

The election is less than a month away and some voters are crying foul at the difficulty of finding political policy. It’s hard to get an idea of where each party stands on the issues without sifting through their websites, social media feeds and press releases. Who would be up for the gargantuan task of simplifying it all? The team at Policy, that’s who.

With the emboldened phrase that’s loaded as soon as you visit their new website, the goal of Policy is simple: “Make this election about policy.” The website was built to give voters a simple and objective view at all the policy on offer this election, in one place.

The team sifted through every statement, speech, web page and press release of the political parties vying for your vote, and condensed them down into easy-to-read statements.

Chris McIntyre, Operating Director of Policy, said his team saw a gap in the media around pure focus on the competing policies on offer this election. For them, they wanted to make it easier for voters to use the issues objectively to influence their vote.

Policy doesn’t aim to tell you who to vote for, or even tell you how to decide on your vote. It’s a resource rather than a guide, which makes it stand out in comparison to TVNZ’s Vote Compass and Massey University’s On The Fence.

Typical websites on voting preference show you how you align with parties depending on how you feel about each issue. On Policy, you can ‘heart’ ideas you like, and it will tally up the ideas that you agree with, organised by political party.

“We think that the best approach to help people make up their minds is to give them all the information, browse and understand it for themselves, rather than asking them 20 questions and spitting out an answer.”

The aim is to put the light on the policies rather than the parties, and let voters have a clear idea on how they align with each party based on what they promise to do in government.

The website is intuitive, updated daily and strikes a good balance between being editorialised and objective. For the major topics of the election, like the economy or health, each party’s policies are listed in easy-to-read, clear language. The team took a “bottom-up approach” by looking at all the policies and sorting them into major themes, rather than only looking for the policy for pre-chosen issues.

The response to the website has been near universally positive, according to Chris. “Our users will be in the hundreds of thousands by the end of the campaign.” The website is serving a diverse range of audiences, from people voting for the first time to veteran voters and journalists.

The core issues are sorted, but what is next for the website? Before the election, users can expect new issues added soon including equity (e.g. LGBT issues, abortion rights), technology and fisheries. They will also be including new features like being able to turn off party affiliations, so that people judge policies “on their own merits.”

As the election continues to increase in intensity, the team at Policy will be ready to present a simple account of the issues. Whether you use it to make up your mind on voting, to see the bigger picture, or just for some fun reading, it’s a valuable resource to get to grips with the policy.

Policy was created with support from Chapman Tripp, Grant Thornton, Victoria University, iwantmyname and Muffin Break, and is hosted on The Spinoff.

If you’re over 18 and aren’t sure whether you’re enrolled to vote, be sure to check your enrolment details here.

 

KASEY MCDONNELL studies Politics and Media at Victoria University. He can be found around Wellington listening to podcasts, designing stuff and watching movies. Check out more of his work for TEARAWAY:

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