Interesting paper on political science and voter assistance websites

Henry Farrell over at MonkeyCage has a very interesting post on a recent paper comparing “voter assistance” websites that have been cropping up in Europe.

These sites purport to help citizens choose the “correct” candidate, based on their responses to a series of survey questions.  For those less familiar with non-US systems, making the “correct” choice is difficult in a multi-party system.  (In political science jargon, the “correct” choice typically this means the candidate or party that is closest to your “ideal point”–the mix of policies that you most prefer.)

The professor in me can barely resist launching into a lecture…  Henry’s posting sparks all kinds of ideas.  What does it mean to vote “correctly” (citations to Lau and Redlawsk and the classic Kelley and Mirer)?  How can voters in multi-party systems consider both policies but also the strategic dynamics of coalition building (citations to Cox among many others).

The article would be a great piece for graduate or undergraduate teaching.  And for those interested in reforming election administration, it’s a good illustration of the challenges inherent in moving from academic research to policy prescription.