The full report of the Voter and non-voter satisfaction survey 2008 is available for download below.
Background and method
The Chief Electoral Office (CEO) commissioned Colmar Brunton to conduct a survey with voters and non-voters in 2008. Similar surveys were conducted on behalf of the CEO in 2002 and 2005. The primary objectives of the survey are to:
- ascertain voter satisfaction with the services the CEO provides, and to
- understand what the barriers to voting are, and how to address these for each identified population group.
The research involved a telephone survey with voters and non-voters, with a boosted sample for those aged 18-24 and Māori. Face-to-face surveys were conducted to boost the number of interviews conducted with Pacific, Asian and disabled respondents. A separate report will be produced for disabled respondents.
1,218 interviews were conducted with voters (giving a maximum margin of error of +/- 2.8%). 291 interviews were conducted with non-voters (giving a maximum margin of error of +/- 5.7%).
Significant changes since 2005 are highlighted in this summary and the main report where relevant.
Summary of findings
- Seven percent of voters, and 15% of non-voters, said the 2008 General Election was the first one they had been eligible to vote in. Likewise, 55% of Youth voters, and 48% of Youth non-voters, said this was their first Election in which they could vote.
- Nearly all (95%) voters in the 2008 General Election who were also eligible to vote in the 2005 General Election said they voted in both Elections. 53% of non-voters (in the 2008 Election) who were eligible to vote in the 2005 Election said they voted in the 2005 Election.
- The majority of voters said they vote in every General Election (73%), with the remainder voting in most (20%) or some (7%) General Elections. Conversely, a third (35%) of non-voters said they vote in most General Elections, with 31% voting in some and 34% not having voted in any General Election.
- Nine percent of voters voted in advance of Election Day. Around two-thirds (64%) of non-voters were aware that they could cast their vote before Election Day. Māori non-voters were less likely to be aware of this option (49%).
- Two thirds (65%) of non-voters who were unaware of the option to vote in advance said they would have voted if they had known about this option.
- Five percent of voters cast a special vote.
- Virtually all (98%) voters, and 79% of non-voters, recalled receiving the EasyVote pack. The proportion of non-voters who recall receiving the pack in 2008 is lower than in 2005 and 2002 (88% in both years).
- Seventy one percent of voters, and 43% of non-voters, who received the pack read all, most or some of the EasyVote pack. 28% of voters, and 58% of non-voters who received the pack only glanced at it or didn’t read it.
- Young voters who received the pack were more likely to only glance at or read some of the pack (47% compared to 38% for the average voter).
- Nearly all (98%) voters, and 83% of non-voters, who received the pack, and read it, said it was easy to find the EasyVote card.
- Use of the EasyVote card (88%) has increased since 2005 (84%). Further, significantly more young voters brought the EasyVote card to the polling place in 2008 (up seven points from 79% in 2005 to 86% in 2008).
- Satisfaction with the EasyVote pack continues to be very high among voters who received the pack (at 92%). Satisfaction is notably lower among non-voters at 66%. Young non-voters were least satisfied (52%).
- Most voters (81%), and non-voters (74%), recalled seeing or hearing advertising or information about the voting process in the lead up to the Election. Recall was especially high among young voters (90%).
- Among voters, unprompted recall of advertising was highest for television (89%), followed by radio (25%), and newspapers (25%). Unprompted recall of radio advertising is particularly high among young voters (42%).
- Since 2005, there have been significant decreases in unprompted voter awareness of radio advertising (down seven points), newspaper advertising (down 12 points), and pamphlets or flyers (down 5 points).
- Unprompted recall among non-voters tended to be lower than among voters, but covers similar sources with 84% recalling television advertising, 19% recalling radio advertising and 15% recalling newspaper advertising.
- Among non-voters who had seen or heard some advertising, there have been significant decreases in awareness since 2005 in relation to newspaper advertising (down 10 points to 15%), signs (down 10 points to 5%), and pamphlets or flyers (down 11 points to 2%).
- Among voters who had seen or heard the advertising, message take-out was reasonably strong. Without prompting, the most common message recalled relates to encouraging voters to enrol (37%) – this is especially high among Youth voters (48%). The other most commonly recalled messages relate to encouraging people to vote or information on how to vote (18%) and encouraging voters to use the EasyVote card (17%). The latter was particularly high among Māori voters (24%).
- Since 2005, there have been a number of significant changes in unprompted recall of the messages conveyed. Recall of the message relating to encouraging voters to enrol has increased (up nine points). Conversely, the messages related to encouraging people to vote or information on how to vote, advance voting and candidate information have decreased.
- Message take-out was weaker among non-voters. However, they recalled similar types of messages. Without prompting, the most commonly recalled messages relate to using the EasyVote card (21%), encouraging voters to enrol (16%), and encouraging people to vote or information on how to vote (12%). Since 2005, significantly fewer non-voters recall candidate information.
- When prompted, recall of the key messages is higher among voters compared with non-voters:
- Voting close to home (52% of voters and 43% of non-voters).
- Using the EasyVote card when going to vote (58% of voters and 42% of non-voters)
- Voting in advance if you’re going away on Election Day (73% of voters and 45% of non-voters).
- Since 2005, there have been significant declines among voters in prompted recall of the messages relating to the EasyVote card (down five points) and voting close to home (down seven points).
Perceived usefulness of sources
- Respondents were asked to rate the various sources of advertising on a scale of 1 to 5 where 1 was ‘not useful at all’ and 5 was ‘very useful’. Of the sources reasonable numbers of voters were aware of, newspaper advertising and television advertising were regarded as the most useful (62% and 58% respectively rated these sources as a 4 or 5 out of 5). These were followed by pamphlets or flyers (52%), the Internet (52%), radio advertising (51%), signs (28%) and bus shelter advertising (25%).
- Of the sources reasonable numbers of non-voters were aware of, radio advertising (50%) and television advertising (44%) were seen as being the most useful. Since 2005, non-voters are significantly less likely to perceive television and newspaper advertising to be useful.
Requests for additional information
- When asked whether there was any additional information about voting they would have liked, large majorities of voters (79%), and non-voters (65%), said they required no further information. A significantly higher proportion of Māori felt they did not require any further information than in 2005 (up 15 points to 79%).
- The most common suggestion made by both voters and non-voters was for more information about polling place locations (4% and 8% respectively). Non-voters, in particular, also requested more information on special / advance voting (7%).
‘Yes I voted’ stickers
- Around four in ten (39%) voters took ‘Yes I voted’ stickers after they voted. 51% of voters thought that the ‘Yes I voted sticker’ would prompt people to vote.
- One quarter (25%) of non-voters saw someone wearing a ‘Yes I voted’ sticker on Election Day.
Getting to the polling place
- Most voters went to the polling place with other family members (59%). Just over a third of voters (36%) attended the polling place by themselves. Young voters were more likely than average to attend the polling place with non-family members.
- Just over half (51%) of repeat voters voted in the same place as last Election. This was less often the case with young voters (31% for those aged 18-24).
- As in 2005, the most common source of information about where to find the polling place was the EasyVote pack (44%). More voters in 2008 referred to signs or signage (23%, up from 16% in 2005).
- Youth were particularly likely to find out about the location of the polling place from others, such as family, friends, or workmates (39%, up from 26% in 2005).
- Most (83%) non-voters knew the location of a polling place that was convenient for them (which is unchanged from 2005).
- Non-voters were most likely to find out about the location of the polling place through family, friends, or workmates (26%) and signs or signage (22%).
Polling place experience
- Forty six percent of people voted in the morning (i.e. before noon), 45% voted in the afternoon (between noon and 5pm), and 8% voted after 5pm. The results are similar to 2005. Young people were more likely to vote in the afternoon (52%) and less likely to vote in the morning (37%).
- Most voters who went to a polling place did not have to queue (79%). The proportion of voters saying they had to queue in 2008 (21%) is significantly higher than the proportion in 2005 (15%) and 2002 (8%). However the overall time spent at the polling place remains unchanged since 2005 and 2002.
- Voters were asked how they felt about the amount of time they had spent at the polling place. As in 2005, nearly all (98%) felt that the time they had spent at the polling place was reasonable given what they had to do.
Rating the polling place
- There has been an increase in the proportion giving positive ratings for the convenience of location (97% in 2008 compared to 95% in 2005 and 95% in 2002). Other ratings about the polling place experience in 2008 were very similar to 2005.
- There has been a decline in the proportion giving positive ratings for the signage inside the polling place, however the proportion has not declined to the level seen in 2002 (86% in 2008, 89% in 2005, and 79% in 2002).
- All other ratings remain similar to 2005, these include:
- Signs outside to indicate it was a polling place (88% positive rating)
- How obvious it was where to place completed ballot paper (89% positive rating)
- Privacy you felt in casting votes (91% positive rating)
- Physical layout of polling place (93% positive rating)
- How easy it was to identify Election staff (93% positive rating)
- How well-equipped polling booth was with pens that worked etc. (97% positive rating)
- Ease of access to exit after voting (97% positive rating)
- As in 2005, younger voters were generally less likely to give excellent ratings for polling place statements (with a significant portion preferring to rate their experience as 4 out of 5).
- As in 2005, the majority of voters (93%) did not experience any issues at the polling place.
Rating the ballot paper
- Satisfaction with the ballot paper remains similar to 2005. Most voters were likely to rate the ballot paper as four or five out of five on the following statements:
- Ease of finding name of person and party (95% positive rating)
- Layout of ballot paper (93% positive rating)
- Clear instructions on how to cast vote (92% positive rating)
Rating Election staff
- Satisfaction with Election staff remains similar to 2005. Most voters were likely to rate Election staff as four or five out of five on the following statements:
- Ability to answer questions (95% positive rating)
- Efficiency (96% positive rating)
- Pleasantness and politeness (97% positive rating)
- In 2008 a higher proportion rated Election staff’s ability to answer questions as ‘excellent’ (95% in 2008 compared to 92% in 2005).
- As in 2005, younger voters were generally less likely to give ‘excellent’ ratings for pleasantness and politeness, and efficiency.
Election night results
- Seventy two percent of voters followed the results as they came in on Election night, this is lower than in 2005, when 77% of voters followed the results, but not as low as the figure in 2002 (68%). As in 2005, non-voters were less likely to follow the results (47%).
- As in 2005, nearly all voters who followed the results said they watched the results come in on television (97%). Younger voters were less likely to say they saw the results on television (93%), and more likely to follow results on the Elections website (6% which is an increase from 1% in 2005).
- There has been an increase in satisfaction with the timeliness of results. Overall, most voters (90%) and non-voters (78%) were either very satisfied or satisfied with the timeliness of the 2008 results (compared with 78% and 65% respectively in 2005).
- Compared with 2005, there has been an increase in the proportion of voters saying that MMP is easy to understand. In 2008, 46% of voters said they found the MMP system of voting either easy or very easy to understand (compared with 34% in 2005). The equivalent figure for non-voters (35%) is unchanged since 2005.
- However, knowledge of how MMP works to determine the number of MPs in Parliament has declined. Just over half (52%) of voters and 32% of non-voters correctly answered that the party vote was more important for determining the number of MPs in Parliament. (This compares with 59% and 37% in 2005).
- Thirty percent of voters and 11% of non-voters correctly stated that to cross the threshold required either 5% of party votes, or one electorate victory. Research in 2007 suggested that 27% of the general population correctly identified the threshold criteria. This is not significantly different from the combined total for voters and non-voters in 2008 (26%).
- Over half (56%) of voters would still prefer to vote in person at a polling place. Just under a third (32%) said they would prefer to vote online using a computer or a mobile Internet device. Young voters were more likely to prefer this mode of voting (49%).
- Preference for voting online was much higher among non-voters, over half (53%) of non-voters said they would prefer to vote online using a computer or a mobile Internet device. Non-voters were less likely than voters to say they would prefer to vote in person at a polling place (22% vs. 56%). Young non-voters were more likely than the rest to say they would prefer online or mobile voting (67%).
- Non-voters were asked if there was any time before the Election when they thought they might vote in this Election. Over two-thirds (69%) of non-voters had considered voting in this Election, this was higher for Māori (73%) and Youth (73%) non-voters. These figures are not significantly different from the equivalent figures in 2005.
- Non-voters were asked at what time before Election Day they decided not to vote. Similar to 2005, around half (48%) of non-voters decided on Election Day that they would not vote.
- Non-voters were asked how much thought they put into their decision not to vote. Thirty three percent stated they had put a lot of thought into it. This is lower than in 2005 when the equivalent figure was 41%.
- The main overall reasons for not voting were ‘had other commitments’ (17%), ‘had other work commitments’ (10%), and ‘I forgot’ (9%). Although results for this question are not directly comparable with previous surveys, the answer ‘can’t be bothered with politics or politicians’ (5% in 2008), did not feature as strongly as it did in 2005 and 2002.
- Māori and Youth were more likely than average to say ‘can’t be bothered voting’ (15% and 11%, respectively). Youth non-voters were more likely than average to say ‘had other commitments’ (27%) or ‘had other work commitments’ (17%).
- The strongest factors influencing non-voters were ‘I’m just not interested in politics’ (26%), ‘I don’t trust politicians’ (24% of all non-voters agreed with this statement), and ‘it makes no difference to my life who wins the Election’ (24%). These results are broadly similar to 2005, although in 2008 there has been a decline in the proportion of non-voters saying ‘it makes no difference to my life who wins the Election’ (24% in 2008 vs. 35% in 2005), and ‘my vote won’t make a difference’ (18% in 2008 vs. 28% in 2005).
The survey suggests very high satisfaction with the service provided by the Chief Electoral Office, with around nine in ten voters giving positive scores for the EasyVote pack, the polling place, ballot papers, and Election staff. Satisfaction remains high in all of these areas, although some small changes since 2005 are noted below:
Some more positive results for:
- timeliness of Election results
- ability of Election staff to answer questions
- convenience of polling place location
More negative scores relating to internal signage.
- Voter_and_non-voter_satisfaction_survey_2008_2.pdf (PDF 1.86 MB)