A nerd’s guide to voting in the 2022 General Elections

Voting in the General Elections is a tricky business. Use your ballot sheet to reward the specific politicians whom you deem honest, genuine and truly reflect your values

For those of us who do not pledge our allegiance to any political party, voting in the General Elections is a tricky business. The political parties and election candidates seem to employ any means necessary to solicit our attention and ultimately our vote. We’ve all received those dodgy phone calls: “just to check if you need anything.”

All considerations for data protection, the environment and even public health seem to go on hold during these hysteric 30 days. Tonnes of propaganda material gets posted into our letter boxes despite our “no spam please” stickers – and most of this paper inevitably ends up littering our roads.

Putting the misgivings from this ironic state of affairs aside, I believe that taking an interest in local affairs and ultimately casting one’s vote is the most basic contribution we can make to our precious democracy. Against the backdrop of a humanitarian crises unfolding within our very own European continent, one must be reminded that despite our sometimes trivial disagreements, we would do well to take our elections seriously.

This is why with every election I block some time to go through the ballot sheet candidates. My aim is to get an idea of what they stand for, measure the ‘quality of their character’ (by my own subjective personal standard) and finally decide whether they will receive any of my “1” through to “25” votes.

Somewhere, at the root of every scientific model, lies a spreadsheet. I am sure that some may find this as either too scientific, or perhaps even not sufficiently so, but I do feel that it gives me some personal reassurance that I’m making a well thought out choice.

Here’s how you might find my rating system useful:

1. Define a set of criteria by which to evaluate candidates.

The criteria can range from traits to ideas or even current issues - these are the levers which should affect your decision.

2. Add weighting to the criteria

Some issues may be more important to you than others. With a weight value ranging from -10 to 10, you can even denote negative traits, such as corruption or arrogance. On the positive side, we may find things like ‘Progressive’, ‘Environmentalist’ or ‘Economy’

3. Rate your candidates

Look up information about the candidate in question. I personally stick to online resources - from their facebook page to their website, youtube videos and news articles. If this information is not available, in 2022, it’s probably not a good sign.

With this information, you can proceed to rate every candidate with a number between 0 and 10 on each criteria.

4. Make a decision

Finally produce a score for every candidate by summing up the weighted value (rating multiplied by weighting) of each criteria. Set a threshold for a minimum or ideal candidate and only vote for the candidates above this score.

The good thing about this model is that it allows me to decide whom to vote for, and in what order. Check out the template by clicking here - please note that this link will download an Excel file to your computer which you can open either with Microsoft Excel or with Google Sheets.

You may have noticed something unusual in my method - I completely ignore the political party affiliation of these candidates. This is not to say that political parties are not important, but I believe their primary role is to weed out “extreme” candidates which could otherwise threaten the democratic process and in doing so bring the entire party to shame. For independent candidates or candidates from newly established parties, take extra care in judging their ideologies for any signs of such extreme views. If you are interested in reading more about the gatekeeping function of political parties, and other interesting things we might take for granted about democracy, I recommend reading the 2018 book by Daniel Ziblatt and Steven Levitsky: “How Democracies Die”.

I would like to conclude with a plea: if you are able to, please exercise your right to vote. Even if you feel apathetic about politics, do not surrender the right to make your voice heard. At the very least, you would have used your ballot sheet to reward and encourage the specific politicians whom you deem honest, genuine and truly reflect your values.