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The best general online election tools: Make your vote count on 6 May

The third and final Prime Ministerial Debate is tonight. With a week to go before the general election, we've selected the best online tools to help you make your vote count

The third and final Prime Ministerial Debate is tonight, exactly a week ahead of the 2010 general election here in the UK. As we head into the final straight, it's time to make a decision about who's getting your X in their box. Fortunately, the Internet is here to help.

Nick Clegg, David Cameron and incumbent PM Gordon Brown will face off over the economy as Liberal Democrat, Conservative and Labour candidates across the country campaign for your vote next Thursday, 6 May. We've put together a selection of online election tools to help you make up your mind.

A series of quizzes help you work out if you're yellow, red or blue -- or green, or something else entirely. Local information helps you work out how to make the most of your vote in your area. Social media gets you involved in the debate with Brown, Cameron, Clegg and company. And if all this democracy is making your head spin, relax with some voting fun, including a slap-happy take on the election battle. Finally, don't forget to take CNET UK's own exit poll in the comments section below.

Image: Electoral Commission

aboutmyvote.co.uk
The first thing you need to do is make sure you have a vote. The deadine has passed to register for this election, but the Electoral Commission's Web site allows you to register on the electoral roll for next time. If you are registered, the site helps you find your local polling station for the big day on 6 May. There's also a cute animated polling station walkthrough.

To find out more about the candidates in your area, here are some tools to find out who's standing where, and what their track record is.

Your Next MP

yournextmp.com
Your Next MP is a list of candidates standing across the country. Amazingly, there's no official list.

Up My Street

upmystreet.com
Local information site Up My Street focuses on your local candidates, alongside its usual features such as information on house buying and local listings.

The Straight Choice

thestraightchoice.org
The Straight Choice is a database of pictures of local flyers posted by candidates, complete with the options to report flyers that contain dodgy-looking graphs.

They Work For You

theyworkforyou.com
They Work For You tracks your politicians and candidates, showing their contributions to parliamentary debates -- such as the recent rushing-through of the Digital Economy Act -- and written activity.

Voter Power Index

voterpower.org.uk
One person, one vote? Not so, according to the Voter Power Index, which argues that in many constituencies your vote is worth much less. Type in your postcode to see how much power your vote gives you.

But who to actually vote for? Next up are some tools to help you choose which party's policies most closely match your own beliefs.

My Vote Advisor

myvoteadvisor.com
My Vote Advisor is the most comprehensive test we've seen, breaking general policy areas such as education and crime into lots of specific issues. It has the widest variation of possible answer, from agreeing strongly to disagreeing strongly. Each question shows answers that are anonymous, so you don't know which party you're agreeing -- or disagreeing -- with. When you've finished -- skipping issues that you're not bothered about -- you get a percentage score of how your answers matched the main political parties. Try not to second-guess which party's answer is which: answer honestly and you may be surprised at the results.

Vote Match

votematch.org.uk
Vote Match is a simpler take on My Vote Advisor's quiz format: you simply agree or disagree with questions on different subjects, such as the economy, education and foreign affairs. State your highest and lowest priorities, then rule out the parties you'd never vote for. You're presented with a percentage score of how your answers matched the main political parties.

Vote for Policies

voteforpolicies.org.uk
Pick at least four areas of interest, from a list including immigration, crime and health, and take the survey. This test is more realistic than percentage-based tests, because it presents policies as packages. Even if you disagree with an individual policy, you have to pick the set of policies that you agree with the most -- just as when choosing whom to vote for.

The election is being closely scrutinised across the news media.

Sky News

news.sky.com/skynews/Politics
Sky News has assorted cool tools alongside its election coverage, including its own voter quiz, a graph of poll results and a constantly updating picture of how parliament will look. Sky News has also electionified its iPhone app.

BBC News

news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010
The BBC includes a number of tools with its peerless coverage of the election campaign, including an election seat calculator and a section of the youth-focused Newsbeat dedicated to first-time voters.

It's all about social media, people. Here are some examples of politicians interacting online.

Democracy UK on Facebook

facebook.com/democracyuk
Facebook has handily pulled together a bunch of election tools in one place, right next to your pokes and likes. Watch the YouTube digital debate, take the Vote Match and My Vote Advisor tests, and rate the debate live.

The YouTube Facebook Digital Debate

youtube.com
YouTube and Facebook users submitted questions to be answered by the candidates in short YouTube clips.

Tweetminster

tweetminster.co.uk
Tweetminster tracks tweets from politicians and candidates, breaking down the information in lots of interesting ways. You can search for your local candidates, see a map of Twitter coverage, and see how Twitter users as a whole feel about all kinds of issues.

Geek the Vote

geekthevote.org.uk
Liberal Democrat supporters reckon "times are tough for geeks". Geek the Vote is a non-official site that sets out six promises for the tech-savvy: free speech for scientists, spending on science, independent expert advice on drugs policy, ending tuition fees, championing women in technology, and repealing the Digital Economy Act.

The government is online at parliament.uk and the Prime Minister's to be found at number10.gov.uk, which includes petitions you can create and sign. To get your election spin straight from the horses' mouths, these are the official sites:

The Labour Party

labour.org.uk
The official Web site of Gordon Brown's incumbents.

The Conservative Party

conservatives.com
The official Web site of David Cameron and company.

The Liberal Democrat Party

libdems.org.uk
The official Web site of Nick Clegg's party.

The Green Party

greenparty.org.uk
The official Web site of Caroline Lucas and her eco-warriors.

The UK Independence Party

ukip.org
The official Web site of Lord Pearson's Euro-sceptic chums.

A hung parliament?

You may not like any of them, of course. In the absence of a 'none of the above' option, The Guardian has rounded up a selection of Web sites campaigning for a hung parliament.

After all that exercising of your democratic franchise, you deserve a parliamentary recess. Fortunately, politics can be fun!

Cameron Girls

camerongirls.com
A horrible Tory take on Obama Girl: "Do you mind if I call you DC? I'd even wear a hoodie if you'd hug me." Bleugh.

Daily Mail-o-matic

qwghlm.co.uk/toys/dailymail
Endless fun from the election-themed headline generator. "HAS NICK CLEGG GIVEN BRITISH JUSTICE DIABETES? COULD NICK CLEGG TURN HOMEOWNERS GAY?"

Slapometer

slapometer.com
If you've had enough of politicians, Slapometer lets you give Cameron, Clegg and Brown a taste of the back of your hand. Slap away live during the debate.

Mad Cap'n Tom: X marks the spot

madcapntom.co.uk
We're not going to try and influence your vote, but anyone who promises a 50 per cent tax on Cheryl Cole MP3s and a ban on unexpected items in the bagging area gets arrr support.

The third Prime Ministerial Debate will be broadcast live on BBC1, BBC1 HD, BBC Parliament and Sky News at 8.30pm. It'll be held in the University of Birmingham and will cover economic affairs, including public services, taxation, deficit, banking and finance, pensions and jobs.

You can watch online and live at TVCatchup, Sky News, and many newspapers' Web sites, or stream live to your phone with the Sky News app. If you're busy, catch it later on BBC iPlayer, which has the advantage of letting you skip the boring bits.

Dial Test

facebook.com/democracyuk
As you're watching the debate, simply click to say whether you like or dislike what you're hearing.

Image credit: BBC/Jeff Overs

Let us know in the comments which online election tool gets your vote, whether it's one we've listed or an independent candidate elsewhere on the Web. And don't forget to let us know what are the big technology-related issues that will sway you one way or the other. Happy voting!