Voter and Non-Voter Satisfaction Survey 2011

Background and method

The Electoral Commission commissioned Colmar Brunton to conduct a survey with voters and non-voters in 2011.  Similar surveys were conducted on behalf of the Chief Electoral Office in 2002, 2005, and 2008.  The primary objectives of the survey are to:

  • ascertain voter satisfaction with the services the Electoral Commission provides, and to
  • understand what the barriers to voting are, and how to address these for each identified population group.

The 2011 survey also included a further objective which was to ascertain levels of understanding about the Referendum on the voting system.

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 and Asian respondents.  A separate report will be produced for disabled respondents.  

1,097 interviews were conducted with voters (giving a maximum margin of error of +/- 3.0%).  272 interviews were conducted with non-voters (giving a maximum margin of error of +/- 5.9%).  

Significant changes since 2008 are highlighted in the main report where relevant.

The full report is available for download at the bottom of this page.

Summary of Findings

Knowledge of the Referendum

Awareness and confidence

  • 87% of respondents were aware that the Referendum was going to occur.  
  • 65% of those aware of the Referendum (57% of all respondents) said they knew ‘a lot’ or ‘a moderate amount’ about the Referendum.  
  • 77% of those aware of the Referendum (67% of all respondents) felt either ‘very confident’ or ‘fairly confident’ about making a decision in the Referendum.  

Knowledge of the Referendum questions and options

  • 82% of those aware of the Referendum (71% of all respondents) said they knew that the Referendum would ask about keeping the present MMP voting system or not.  
  • 82% of those aware of the Referendum (72% of all respondents) said they knew that the Referendum would ask what voting system they prefer.  
  • 58% of those aware of the Referendum (51% of all respondents) could spontaneously mention at least one of the voting systems listed in the Referendum.

Knowledge of the consequences

  • 60% of those aware of the Referendum (53% of all respondents) said they knew that if most people voted to keep MMP, that there would be an independent review of the way it works.  
  • 76% of those aware of the Referendum (66% of all respondents) said they knew that if most people voted for a change of system, Parliament would then decide if there would be another Referendum to choose between MMP and the most popular alternative.

Voting behaviour

  • 9% of voters, and 22% of non-voters, said the 2011 General Election was the first one they had been eligible to vote in.
  • 96% of voters in the 2011 General Election who were also eligible to vote in the 2008 General Election said they voted in both Elections.
  • 60% of non-voters (in the 2011 Election) who were eligible to vote in the 2008 Election said they voted in the 2008 Election.
  • 76% of voters said they vote in every General Election, 19% in most and 5% in some General Elections.  
  • 42% of non-voters said they vote in most General Elections, 29% in some and 28% no General Elections.

EasyVote pack

  • 96% of voters and 77% of non-voters, recalled receiving the EasyVote pack.
  • 76% of voters and 49% of non-voters, who received the pack read all, most or some of the EasyVote pack.
  • 96% of voters and 81% of non-voters, who received the pack, and read it, said it was easy to find the EasyVote card.
  • Use of the EasyVote card (86%) is similar to 2008 (when it was 88%).  
  • 88% of voters and 58% of non-voters who received the EasyVote pack were satisfied with it.

Advertising and information

Referendum advertising

  • 79% of voters and 74% of non-voters were aware of advertising or information about the Referendum.
  • 51% of voters and 26% of non-voters were satisfied with the Referendum information they received.

Electoral advertising recall

  • 64% of voters and 57% of non-voters recalled seeing or hearing advertising or information about the voting process in the lead up to the Election.  
  • Unprompted recall of advertising was highest for television (66% of voters and 70% of non-voters), followed by newspapers (35% & 18%), pamphlets and fliers (22% & 18%) and radio (18% & 16%).  

Message take-out

  • Among voters who had seen or heard the advertising, the most common messages recalled unprompted were ‘telling us how to vote’ (35%), information about the Referendum (33%), and getting enrolled (18%).
  • Among non-voters who had seen or heard the advertising, the most commonly recalled messages unprompted relate to telling people how to vote (32%) and the Referendum (16%).  11% also recalled candidate information.
  • When prompted, recall of the key messages was higher among voters compared with non-voters:
  • Voting in advance if you’re going away on Election Day (75% of voters and 54% of non-voters).  Although recall of this message among non-voters is higher than the equivalent result  in 2008 (when it was 45%).
  • Using the EasyVote card when going to vote (75% of voters and 53% of non-voters). This is higher than the equivalent results in 2008 (which were 58% and 42% respectively).
  • Voting close to home (65% of voters and 55% of non-voters). This is higher than the equivalent results in 2008 (which were 52% and 43% respectively).

Perceived usefulness of sources

  • Of the sources reasonable numbers of voters were aware of, pamphlets or fliers and the Internet were regarded as the most useful (76% and 70% respectively rated these sources as a 4 or 5 out of 5).  Other useful information sources include radio (57%), the newspapers (57%), and television advertising (54%).
  • Of the sources reasonable numbers of non-voters were aware of, television advertising (48%) and pamphlets or fliers (41%) were seen as being the most useful.  

Requests for additional information

  • 54% of voters and 39% of non-voters said they required no further information.
  • 26% of voters and 20% of non-voters wanted more information about the Referendum voting systems.  8% of voters and 13% of non-voters also wanted more information on the Referendum voting process.

Timing of information

  • 75% of people  thought the advertising and information about the Election and Referendum came at about the right time, 4% thought it was too early, 17% thought it was too close to the Election and 4% said ‘don’t know’.

‘Yes I voted’ stickers

  • 37% of voters took ‘Yes I voted’ stickers after they voted.  36% of voters thought that the ‘Yes I voted sticker’ would prompt people to vote.
  • 13% of non-voters saw someone wearing a ‘Yes I voted’ sticker on Election Day.

Getting to the polling place

  • 63% of voters went to the polling place with other family members, 32% attended the polling place by themselves.
  • 51% of repeat voters voted in the same place as last Election.
  • 45% of voters found out about polling place location from the EasyVote pack or something received in the mail, 27% knew from signs and 26% because they had voted there in the past.
  • 85% of non-voters knew the location of a polling place that was convenient for them.
  • Non-voters were most likely to find out about the location of the polling place through family, friends, or workmates (25%) and signs or signage (26%).  

Polling place experience

  • 40% of people voted in the morning (i.e. up to, and including, noon), 50% of people voted in the afternoon (between noon and up to, and including, 5pm), and 9% voted after 5pm.  
  • 89% of voters who went to a polling place did not have to queue.
  • 63% of voters spent five minutes or less in the polling place.  
  • 98% of voters felt that the time they had spent at the polling place was reasonable given what they had to do.  

Rating the polling place

  • Voters rated the polling place for the following factors:
  • How obvious it was where to place completed voting papers (92% positive rating (4or 5 out of 5))
  • Convenience of polling place location (97% positive rating)
  • Ease of access to exit after voting (97% positive rating)
  • How well-equipped polling booth was with pens that worked etc. (97% positive rating)
  • How easy it was to identify Election staff (94% positive rating)
  • Physical layout of polling place (93% positive rating)
  • How obvious it was where to place completed ballot paper (92% positive rating)
  • Privacy felt while casting votes (89% positive rating)
  • Signs outside to indicate it was a polling place (89% positive rating)
  • Signs inside directing you where to vote (88% positive rating).
  • 90% of voters did not experience any issues at the polling place.
  • Rating the Parliamentary voting paper
  • Voters rated the parliamentary ballot paper for the following factors:
  • Ease of finding name of person and party (95% positive rating)
  • Clear instructions on how to cast vote (94% positive rating)
  • Layout of ballot paper (91% positive rating).

Rating the Referendum voting paper

Voters rated the referendum voting paper for the following factors:

  • Ease of finding the options (90% positive rating)
  • Layout (86% positive rating)
  • Clear instructions (83% positive rating).
  • Rating Election staff
  • Voters rated the Elections staff for the following factors:
  • Pleasantness and politeness (98% positive rating)
  • Efficiency (97% positive rating)

  • Ability to answer questions (96% positive rating)

Overall satisfaction with the voting experience

  • 88% of voters were satisfied (35% gave a 4 out of 5 for satisfaction and 53% gave a 5 out of 5, or excellent, rating).
  • Māori voters were more likely to be satisfied overall (94% either scored 4 or 5 out of 5 compared with 88% on average).  Pacific voters were less likely to be satisfied overall (70% vs. 88% average).
  • Young voters were less likely to be ‘very satisfied’ (36% scored 5 out of 5, compared to 53% on average).  Similarly Pacific voters were less likely to be ‘very satisfied’ (41%).

Election night results

  • 70% of voters and 33% of non-voters followed the results as they came in on Election night.  
  • 93% of voters who followed the results watched them come in on television (93%).  
  • 87% of voters and 77% of non-voters who followed the results were either very satisfied or satisfied with the timeliness of the results.  

Non-voters

  • 64% of non-voters had considered voting in this Election.
  • 43% of non-voters decided on Election Day that they would not vote.
  • 41% of non-voters put just a little thought into whether or not to vote, and 29% didn’t think about it at all.
  • The main overall reasons for not voting were that they had other commitments (14%) or work commitments (9%), could not be bothered voting (14%), couldn’t work out who to vote for (11%) and that their vote would not make a difference (8%).  
  • 33% of all non-voters agreed ‘I don’t trust politicians’ was an important factor (4 or 5 out of 5) on their not voting.  Other important factors were ‘it was obvious who would win so why bother’ (31%), and I’m just not interested in politics (29%).  Since 2008 there has been an increase in the proportion of non-voters saying ‘it was obvious who would win so why bother’ (from 19% to 31%).

Conclusions

The survey suggests continuing high satisfaction with the services provided by the Electoral Commission, with around nine in ten voters giving positive scores for the EasyVote pack, the polling place, Parliamentary voting papers, and Election staff.  Only minor changes occurred between 2008 and 2011, including:

  • a slight reduction in satisfaction with the EasyVote pack,
  • a slight increase in the proportion saying it was obvious where to place completed ballot papers.

Ratings for the Referendum voting paper were lower than the equivalent ratings for the Parliamentary voting paper, particularly around the clarity of instructions.  However, the majority (around 8 in 10) still gave positive ratings for the Referendum ballot paper.

Although the majority were aware of the Referendum, and had a good level of understanding about what the Referendum entailed, a notable proportion of voters and non-voters wanted more information about the voting systems (a quarter of voters and a fifth of non-voters specifically requested this).  

The majority of voters and non-voters were aware of advertising about the Referendum.  The majority also recalled advertising about the voting process, although awareness levels were significantly lower than in 2008.

Since 2008 there has been an increase in consumption, and satisfaction with, electoral information provided over the Internet, and a decrease in consumption, and satisfaction with, electoral information provided on the television.

Last updated: 17 December 2014