Norway couch potatoes voting from home

One third of all voters in local elections in Norway has changed loyalties and will vote for another party after taking an online test of their views versus those of party candidates.

Many of Norway’s news outlets have been sporting new valgautomater, or vote machines, with many claiming participants were changing parties after taking online tests of their views. Nearly a decade old, the electronic quizzes have become more convincing than ever.

Broadcaster NRK’s e-vote quiz starts by asking which municipality one lives in, and then asks what party one thinks one ought to vote for. It then asks how strongly you agree with political statements on 22 local issues and how important they are.

The results helped many vote online rather than visit public buildings with their election stations. Midnight Saturday marked the end of online voting.

“Most people say they like sitting in peace and calm at home when they vote and for example look up candidate lists from other parties (online),” said Radøy municipality’s e-vote overseer, Tove Thomassen, to newspaper Bergens Tidende.

“We are very satisfied that so many have voted electronically,” said Thomassen.

In addition to the e-tests of voter views, three-quarters of all early voting was registered online: 48-year-olds overtook 20-somethings to become the leading demographic to vote from laptops on sofas and office blocks.

Voters could also inspect an interactive, online map showing the state of their municipality’s finances, including scores for healthcare, schools, kindergartens, culture and costs.

Electronic vote counts appeared to temper predictions of political change in the capital, Oslo, and in the old German trading town of Bergen. In cosmopolitan Oslo, a Labour Party decimated this summer by a gunman’s murderous attack on its youth wing was seen benefiting from a wave of sympathy able to replace the well-ensconced and poll-leading Conservative Party candidate.

An electronic poll on Sunday by newspaper Aftenposten gave the coalition’s Socialist Left party 5.2 percent of the vote. The party’s political victories included edging government away from drilling for oil in the pristine Lofoten Islands, the right to daycare and a wealth tax on the country’s rich which in 2011 saw the wealthy taxed for the first time on their assets as well as their taxable income.

Party leader Kristin Halvorsen had served as finance minister in coalition with Labour and the agrarian Centre party.

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