Electoral Dioramas: On the Problem of Representation in Voting Advice Applications

Representation 51 (3):341-358 (2015)

Thomas Fossen
Leiden University
Voting Advice Applications (VAAs) are online tools designed to help citizens decide how to vote. They typically offer their users a representation of what is at stake in an election by matching user preferences on issues with those of parties or candidates. While the use of VAAs has boomed in recent years in both established and new democracies, this new phenomenon in the electoral landscape has received little attention from political theorists. The current academic debate is focused on epistemic aspects of the question how a VAA can adequately represent electoral politics. We argue that conceptual and normative presuppositions at play in the background of the tool are at least as important. Even a well-developed VAA does not simply reflect what is at stake in the election by neutrally passing along information. Rather, it structures political information in a way that is informed by the developers’ presuppositions. Yet, these presuppositions remain hidden if we interpret the tool as a mirror that offers the user a reflection of him/herself situated within the political landscape. VAAs should therefore be understood as electoral dioramas, staged according to a contestable picture of politics.
Keywords voting advice applications  elections  democracy  political representation
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

Our Archive
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

The Market and the Forum: Three Varieties of Political Theory.Jon Elster - 2003 - In Derek Matravers & Jonathan E. Pike (eds.), Debates in Contemporary Political Philosophy: An Anthology. Routledge, in Association with the Open University.
Representative Democracy as Tautology.Sofia Näsström - 2006 - European Journal of Political Theory 5 (3):321-342.

View all 10 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

An Indirect Argument for Strategic Voting.Steven F. Geisz - 2006 - Journal of Applied Philosophy 23 (4):433–444.
Against a Minimum Voting Age.Philip Cook - 2013 - Critical Review of International Social and Political Philosophy 16 (3):439-458.
The Legal Culture of Political Representation: Evolution and Balance of Its Current Situation Within Democracies.M. Isabel Garrido Gómez - 2016 - International Journal for the Semiotics of Law - Revue Internationale de Sémiotique Juridique 29 (4):823-841.
Upper House Elections in Japan and the Power of the 'Organized Vote'.Patrick Köllner - 2002 - Japanese Journal of Political Science 3 (1):113-137.
Compulsory Voting: A Critical Perspective.Annabelle Lever - 2010 - British Journal of Political Science 40:897-915.


Added to PP index

Total views
333 ( #17,467 of 2,272,555 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
65 ( #11,185 of 2,272,555 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes

Sign in to use this feature