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Amil Vasishtha
25 Jul 2017

The General Election 2017: Voting for policies just makes sense!

A brief introduction

If you’re a bit of a cool kid you may have heard of Vote for Policies as early as 2010, when it was first created, the idea being to inform people before voting in the general election.

If you weren’t so lucky to have got the memo in 2010, you may have received it in 2015 when it once again struck back against all the bias in newspapers and the now infamous fake news.

And if you haven’t heard about it in 2017, firstly where have you been for the last two months (?) but more importantly, strap in, because you’re about to hear all about it.

Vote for Policies: Homepage

What is Vote for Policies?

giphy-downsizedVote for Policies is an online survey that allows you to identify the party whose policies most closely match your own beliefs.

The idea behind it? Surely thinking someone might be good at running a country does not mean you should just go out and vote for them? Does it not make more sense to know which policies they plan to implement once they are in power before voting? Spoiler alert: it does.

So when Theresa May made what may-be the may-dest announcement of the year, there were a lot of facepalms (probably across the globe).

“Are you serious?” we asked. Turns out they were serious.

What we did about it!

We decided to contact Matt Chocqueel-Mangan, the founder of Vote for Policies. You can check out his story here.

We quickly arranged a meeting and discussed what needed to happen in order for us to get the site general election-ready, and let me tell you, we had plenty to get through! We pulled up our socks, rolled up our sleeves and got to work almost immediately.

caffeine

With a small timeframe and a lot of dependencies – like parties actually getting their manifestos out on time – we did end up having a few 12 hour days.

Matt Chocqueel-Mangan was also working incredibly hard to summarise the policies so they could be shorter and easier to read, inevitably speeding up the survey process and making the site more user friendly.

Was it a piece of cake?

In case you were wondering: no, it was not a piece of cake. We did indeed face some challenges, and these were mainly around the codebase and infrastructure.

The code was slightly outdated and clunky. This meant setting the project up was somewhat of a challenge. We also found the deployment process to be a little painful. It desperately needed updating and was complex to fix. Get in contact if you would like to know more on this.

We also faced challenges around sharing results on social media, the UI and UX of the site, making sure the policies were categorised correctly and boiled down just enough so that they retained all the key information, but not so much that they no longer made sense.

So yeah… not exactly a piece of cake, but that in no way stopped us!

The conclusion

Needless to say, the project was a great success! Gaining more and more popularity and even being shared across the pond, with site visits pushing almost 200,000 a day (and over that with the last few days running up to the election), we were astounded! Especially given the short time we had to work on it and collaborate with various external teams!

Vote for Policies 2017 helped to guide people through the mire of misinformation during the election, allowing them to focus on what they really care about, and it hopefully influenced some people to go out and vote. We cannot help but think it played some part in the outcome of the general election 2017.

We shared the application with friends, family and everyone that follows us on Twitter, so if you don’t want to miss out on all the other interesting stuff we are talking about, you should probably go and follow us!

Next steps

What does the future hold you ask? Well, we had some great feedback and already the wheels are in motion to make further improvements. We plan to get started later this year, because let’s face it, statistics would argue the likeliness of another general election is pretty high. Lord have mercy 🙏