Voter and Non-Voter Satisfaction Survey 2014

The Electoral Commission commissioned TNS New Zealand Ltd to conduct a survey with voters and non-voters in 2014, post the general election. Similar surveys were conducted on behalf of the Chief Electoral Office in 2005 and 2008 and the Electoral Commission in 2011. Where possible this report includes comparisons to the 2011 results.

The primary objectives of the survey are to:

  • Measure voter satisfaction with the services the Electoral Commission provides
  • Understand the level of engagement with the voting process, barriers to voting, and how to address these barriers for each identified population group

The executive summary is detailed below, and the full report can be downloaded at the bottom of this page. Click here for previous surveys.

  • Background and methodology

    The post-election study was conducted of 1,310 people through multiple data collection methods to ensure the most robust and representative sample possible. This involved telephone (random digit dialling of any household with a landline), CATI surveying of those previously identified as being of Māori descent, and face-to-face interviews to help reach specific quotas on people of Pasifika and Asian descent. Telephone surveying was the main method used as the proportion of people with a landline is still higher than those with access to the internet (86% of households have access to a telephone compared to 77% of households who have access to the internet. Source: Statistics New Zealand 2013 Census).

  • Enrolment status and behaviour

    In total 96% of eligible voters say they were enrolled to vote in the 2014 general election. This compares to the actual rate of 93%. Note that as all respondents in the 2011 survey were enrolled voters, comparisons to 2011 are not relevant for this question. Less likely to be enrolled are people of Pasifika and Asian descent, and those aged 18-29.

    In total 5% of eligible voters say they were enrolled on the Māori electoral roll. This compares to the actual rate of 8% - the difference being down to the multiple weighting variables used in this study. Of people who said they were of Māori ethnicity in the survey, 66% were on the Māori electoral roll, 29% on the general roll and 5% weren’t sure.

    Seven out of eight people (87%) who had enrolled to vote did so before the 2011 general election, with 2% enrolling within one month of the 2014 general election. Note that as all respondents in the 2011 survey were enrolled voters, comparisons to 2011 are not relevant for this section.

    Within the 11% of people who enrolled after the 2011 election, just over half (51%) said they did so because they wanted their vote to be heard, a quarter (23%) because it’s compulsory, and one in ten (10%) because they want to make a difference. Of the 31% who gave another reason for enrolling, the majority were because it’s a good thing to do; because of a feeling of duty or obligation; received papers in mail so enrolled; or living overseas previously, and decided to enrol now that living back in New Zealand.

    Within the small base of people who have not enrolled but are eligible to do so (4%), the vast majority say they intend to do so (57% definitely, 17% intend). Only 6% say they definitely do not intend to enrol.

    Of those who were eligible to vote in the 2014 general election, over nine in ten (91%) were also eligible to vote in the 2011 general election, with the majority of these (86%) having voted in the 2011 election. This was slightly down on the 2011 result (where 91% of those who were eligible voted in the 2008 election). The main groups driving this decline were people of Māori descent (87% of those surveyed in 2011 voted in the previous election versus 79% of those surveyed in 2014 voted in the previous election), Pasifika (89% versus 76%) and Asian (85% versus 73%). In contrast the rate among youth was higher (68% from 58%).

  • Awareness and knowledge of the election

    Understanding of the voting process

    The 2014 study measured the level of understanding of the voting process overall and key aspects of the process. This was based on respondents’ stated understanding of the process. In total understanding is extremely high with over half saying they have a very good understanding of how to enrol, how to vote and where to vote. While there is still high understanding of what to do if you cannot get to a voting place, this aspect has the greatest proportion who say they have a poor or very poor understanding of the process.

    • The vast majority (93%) of people had at least a good understanding of the process for voting in general elections, including enrolling, changing details and voting, with most of these (58%) saying they had a very good understanding. Only 7% said they had a poor or very poor understanding. Those more likely to have a poor or very poor understanding about the process of voting included those of Pasifika ethnicity; those of Asian ethnicity; those aged 18-29; and those who didn’t vote or enrol to vote in 2014.
    • The vast majority (91%) of people had at least a good understanding of how to enrol to vote, with most of these (50%) saying they had a very good understanding. Only 8% said they had a poor or little or no understanding. Those more likely to have a poor or very poor understanding about how to enrol included those of Asian ethnicity; those aged 18-29; and those who didn’t vote or enrol to vote in 2014.
    • Almost all (95%) people had at least a good understanding of how to vote, with most of these (63%) saying they had a very good understanding. Only 4% said they had a poor or little or no understanding. Again those more likely to have a poor or very poor understanding about how to vote included those of Asian ethnicity; those aged 18-29; and those who didn’t vote or enrol to vote in 2014.
    • Almost all (96%) of people had at least a good understanding of where to vote, with most of these (63%) saying they had a very good understanding. Only 3% said they had a poor or little or no understanding. Those more likely to have a poor or very poor understanding about where to vote included those of Asian ethnicity; those aged 30-49; and those who didn’t vote or enrol to vote in 2014.
    • About three quarters (71%) of people had at least a good understanding of what to do if you cannot get to a voting place on election day, split equally between those who had a very good (36%) and good understanding (35%). A quarter said they had a poor (12%) or little or no (12%) understanding. Those more likely to have a poor or very poor understanding about what to do if you cannot get to a voting place included those of Asian ethnicity; those aged 18-49; and those who didn’t vote or enrol to vote in 2014.

     

    Information sources

    A range of channels would be used by people if they needed to enrol or change their enrolment address. Most commonly the Electoral Commission’s website would be used by 39%, especially 18-29 year olds (52%). In contrast a general online search would be used by 12% of the population. Going to a PostShop is second most common overall at 23% Other channels are less common including calling the Electoral Commission’s 0800 number (7%) or emailing them (1%), or visiting various government offices (local council 4%, Registrar’s or Electoral office 3%, local MP’s office 2%).

    Almost one in five (18%) do not know what channels they would use, and this is particularly true for Pasifika people (36%), Asians (30%) and 18-29s (25%).

    This question was asked for the first time in 2014.

  • Communications

    Fifty eight percent of people recalled advertising about the voting process. This is significantly lower than the 2011 result (63%). This decrease has been seen primarily across those of Pasifika and Asian ethnicity, who have significantly less awareness than other groups. Disabled people also have lower awareness at 50%.

    TV is the primary source of advertising for recall about the voting process; with seventy percent of those who recalled advertising saying they had seen it via TV. This is in line with the 2011 result (67%). The main sources of Electoral advertising vary by age and show the importance of a multi-channel media approach to ensure all people are reached: those aged 18 to 29 were more likely to notice advertising via social media, websites, signs and bus shelters. Those aged 30 to 49 were more likely to notice advertising on TV; while those aged 50 years plus were likely to notice advertising via newspapers and pamphlets or fliers.

    Among those who recalled TV advertising, the key messages being taken from the advertising reflect the ‘Orange Man’ campaign: don’t forget to enrol to vote (51%), there’s an election coming up (13%) and how to vote (10%).

  • Pre-election Day behaviour

    Ninety two percent of those enrolled recalled receiving an EasyVote pack in the mail, the same as 2011, though this is less among those of Pasifika descent, Asian and youth. Forty three percent of those who received an EasyVote pack read most or all of it. This is significantly lower than the 2011 result (50%). This decrease has been driven primarily by those of European ethnicity. Ninety six percent of those who read their EasyVote pack found the EasyVote card easily. This is not significantly different to the 2011 result (95%). Sixty six percent of those who read their EasyVote pack found it very useful. While at the other end of the scale only three percent did not find it very useful, and this was primarily driven by those who did not vote in the 2014 General Election.

    Eleven percent looked for additional information on how to vote, primarily driven by younger people and those of Pasifika ethnicity. Forty one percent visited the Electoral Commission’s website in search of additional information on how to vote. Twenty eight percent did a general online search for information. Those of Asian ethnicity were less likely to visit the Electoral Commission’s website in search of additional voting information, instead choosing to do a general online search. Those of Pasifika ethnicity were more likely to ask someone they knew or call the Electoral Commission for additional voting information.

    Sixty three percent of those who visited the Electoral Commission’s website found it very useful. Only five percent (or one in twenty) rated the website as not very useful.

    Of the few who wanted additional information, the most requested topics were more info on party policies / candidates, the location of voting places, and information on special / advanced voting.

  • Voting and Election Day behaviour

    Ninety percent of voters placed an ordinary vote this election. This result is significantly lower than in 2011 (94%). This decrease has been seen primarily across the Youth demographic (18 to 29 year olds), who were the group least likely to do so at 75%.

    Almost a third (30%) of voters voted before Election Day. This result is significantly higher than in 2011 (16%), and has been seen across all key segments. Least likely to vote on Election Day are those aged 50 plus. The main reasons for voting before Election Day were because it was easier, wanted to get it over with early, expected to be out of electorate on Election Day, and had other plans for Election Day. Nearly half (45%) of those who voted early cited the media as one of the means by which they knew they could vote early. The Electoral Commission and word of mouth were also key information sources about early voting, the latter especially for youth.

    Nearly all voters (98%) voted at a voting place or advance voting place. Those who are disabled were more likely to vote somewhere else (4% versus 1% for those not disabled).

    Over half (55%) of those who voted at a voting place were accompanied by family members. This is significantly lower than in 2011 (63%) due to more people choosing to vote by themselves in 2014. Those who voted in advance were more likely to vote by themselves (54% versus 31% for those who voted on Election Day).

    Forty one percent of those who voted in 2011 voted at the same place in 2014. This is significantly lower than in 2011 (51%) and has been experienced across all demographic groups. The main reason (53%) for choosing a different voting place is that a different, more convenient place was available. This is significantly higher than in 2011 (34%) and has been experienced across all demographic groups with the exception of youth, who were more likely to have moved since the last election. The increase in advanced voting influenced this result with only 12% of those who voted early voting in the same place as in 2011, compared to 53% amongst those who voted on Election Day. This was similar to the 2011 results, which saw 9% of those who voted early voting in the same place as 2008.

    The main information source on where to vote (33%) was reading about it in the mail – most likely the EasyVote pack. This is significantly lower than in 2011 (45%) and has been experienced across all demographic groups with the exception of those of Pasifika ethnicity.

  • Polling place behaviour and satisfaction

    Across all voters, voting was relatively evenly spread between 9am-4pm, with a peak between 10am-1pm. Voting behaviour was less likely to occur later in the day in 2014 compared to 2011, with 11% voting after 4pm, compared to 17% in 2011. Those who voted before Election Day were less likely to vote between 9:00am – 9:59am (2% compared to 13% amongst those who voted on Election Day) and more likely to vote between 11:00am – 11:59am (23% compared to 16% amongst those who voted on Election Day). In 2011, those who voted early were also less likely to vote between 9:00am – 9:59am and more likely to vote between 12:00pm – 12:59pm.

    Just over one in five people (22%) who voted on Election Day said that they had to queue before voting. The rate of queuing before having to vote was higher than it was in 2011 across all groups, but comparable to figures seen in 2008, when 21% said they had to queue. Both Youth and Pasifika people were more likely to say they had to queue.

    More than three quarters (78%) of those who voted took along their EasyVote card, with one in five (20%) not taking along anything. The small remainder of people took along a letter from the Electoral Commission (4%). Usage of the EasyVote card declined compared to the 2011 General Election, consistent across all groups.

    In general, almost two thirds (66%) of those who voted took less than 5 minutes to vote, with the majority of the remainder taking between 5 and 10 minutes. Overall, the length of time taken to vote was fairly consistent with the 2011 General Election, however those aged under 30 were less likely to say that it took less than 5 minutes (48% compared to 63% in 2011), and more likely to say it took 16-20 minutes (11% compared to 1%). Youth were more likely to say it took longer than 5 minutes. The vast majority (97%) of those who voted said that they were satisfied with the amount of time it took to vote and that it took a reasonable amount of time, given what they had to do. This was consistent with the 2011 General Election.

    Rating the experience

    Voters were asked to rate the experience of voting on a 5-point scale, from 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent). The following section summarises the results.

    • Satisfaction with the convenience of the voting location was very high, with almost all (98%) rating it 4 or 5 out of 5, and the majority of these rating it as excellent (87%). Overall and across most groups, the convenience of voting locations was rated consistently with results from 2011 General Election. The only exception was amongst people of Pasifika descent, who felt it was less convenient in 2014.
    • Just over two-thirds of those who voted said that the voting place had excellent sign-posting, with very few voters thinking it was poorly sign-posted. At an overall level, satisfaction with how well sign-posted the voting place was were consistent with the 2011 General Election and for most groups, with those of Pasifika descent more satisfied than in 2011.
    • Four in five voters (81%) rated the layout of the voting place excellent at allowing them to find what they needed. Very few voters found the layout of the voting place poor. All groups felt that the layout of the voting place was better than it was for the 2011 General Election.
    • The majority of voters (85%) rated the ease of finding the ballot box excellent, with very few rating this aspect poorly. With the exception of Youth voters, all other groups felt that the ballot boxes were easier to find than in the 2011 General Election.
    • The majority of voters (85%) rated the overall process of placing their vote excellent, with very few rating the overall aspect poorly.
    • Just over four in five voters (82%) rated the clarity of the instruction on the voting paper as excellent, which improved from the 2011 General Election, with this consistent across all groups.
    • The majority of voters (85%) said the voting papers were excellent at helping them find the person or party they wanted to vote for, with very few rating this as poor. The layout of the ballot paper was rated better in the 2014 General Election than in the 2011 General Election.
    • Just under three quarters (73%) of all voters said that the privacy of the voting booths was excellent, with only 3% saying it was poor. At an overall level, satisfaction with privacy is rated similarly to the 2011 General Election; however Māori, Pasifika and Asian people all rated the privacy better than 2011.
    • Just over three quarters (73%) of all voters said that the entire ballot paper was excellent, with only 1% saying it was poor. All groups, with the exception of the Youth segment, were more satisfied with the layout of the ballot paper than in the 2011 General Election.
    • Almost nine out of ten (89%) of those who voted rated the staff as being excellent on being pleasant and polite, with very few rating them poorly on this regard. This was consistent with the 2011 General Election.
    • The majority of voters who asked questions rated the voting place staff’s ability to answer these as excellent (61% in total, but amongst those who asked a question the rate was 85%). More voters stated that they didn’t ask a question of the voting place staff in the 2014 General Election than the 2011 General Election.
    • Almost nine out of ten (85%) of those who voted rated the staff as being excellent on their efficiency. This is consistent across time.
    • The vast majority (86%) of those who voted said their overall impression of staff was excellent, very few rating them poorly.
    • Two thirds (68%) of those who voted rated the overall voting process as excellent, with very few rating the process poorly. Satisfaction with the entire voting process improved compared to the 2011 General Election across all groups.

     

    Almost all (95%) of those who voted did not encounter any issue while voting. This is consistent with results from the 2011 General Election.

  • Non-voter behaviour and reasons for not voting

    About seven in ten (70%) of people who did not vote in the 2014 election said that they considered doing so, a similar level to the 2011 level (64%). Low sample sizes means there are no significant differences by sub-groups between 2014 and 2011.

    Almost a third (30%) of people decided not to vote on Election Day itself, down significantly from 43% in 2011. Another fifth (22%) decided up to a week before, a similar level to 2011. In both 2014 and 2011 about a fifth of people decided not to vote more than one month before Election Day.

    About a third (32%) said they put a lot of thought into the decision about whether or not to vote, a third (31%) some thought, and a third (38%) no thought at all. This was the same pattern as in 2011.

    Non-voters were asked the reason why they didn’t vote in the 2014 election.

    • The main reason is self-stated barriers to voting, either due to a personal/commitment barriers (e.g. work or religious commitments), at 24% (31% in 2011) or practical access barriers (away from home or transport barriers) at 10% (14% in 2011). These reasons total 34% or a third of all the ‘main’ reasons for not voting. However this is a lower level than in 2011 (45%), mainly due to a reduction in the ‘other commitments’ category from 11% to 1%.
    • The second biggest reason is a lack of interest in voting for 27% of non-voters, up from 21% in 2011. The biggest drivers of this result are ‘can't be bothered with politics or politicians’ at 9%, ‘can't be bothered voting’ at 8%, and ‘makes no difference who the government is’ at 6%.
    • The third main category of reasons for non-voting is not knowing who to vote for at 11% of all main reasons given, the same as 2011. This is a function of not knowing who to vote for in a new electorate (6%), not being able to work out who to vote for (2%), and not knowing the candidates (3%).
    • Only 3% gave a reason of not knowing how, when or where to vote, although this is indicatively higher than the 0% seen in 2011, and the high proportion of self-stated barriers to voting noted above does suggest there is a degree of lack of awareness of early voting.

     

    The main reasons for voting in 2014 after not voting in 2011, despite being eligible, were:

    • I wasn't away from home and overseas (20%)
    • Thought my vote would make a difference this time (18%)
    • Thought it was important (15%)
    • Thought that it does makes a difference who the government (14%)

     

 

Last updated: 12 March 2015