Voter and Non-voter Satisfaction Survey 2005

The full Voter and Non-voter Satisfaction Survey for the 2005 General Election is available for download below.

Executive summary

TNS was commissioned by the Chief Electoral Office, Ministry of Justice to undertake the 2005 voter and non-voter survey.  The aim of this survey was to review the electoral experience of the eligible voting population and to ascertain why non-voters did not vote.

TNS was also commissioned by the Chief Electoral Office to conduct a survey of voters and non-voters with a disability.

Method

The survey of voters and non-voters was undertaken beginning the day after the election (18/09/05). The survey was undertaken using computer assisted telephone interviewing (CATI). The sample that was obtained is shown below:

 

Total 2005

Māori 2005

Non-Māori 2005

Youth 2005

Yes

1004

307

683

104

No

226

100

121

62

Total (n=)

1,230

407

804

166

Summary of findings

EasyVote pack

  • The majority of voters recall receiving and reading the EasyVote pack.  As with 2002, nearly all voters (98%) and most non-voters (88%) recall receiving the EasyVote pack.  Significantly more voters (89%) read their EasyVote pack than non-voters (70%), which is consistent with 2002. 
  • The most useful information in the EasyVote pack was on the EasyVote Card.  Nearly half the voters (47%) found the information on the EasyVote Card useful.  Other useful information in the EasyVote pack included the list of candidate names in the electorates (20%), the location of the polling places (19%), the location of advance polling places (17%), and the party lists (17%). 
  • The information on the EasyVote Card was also the easiest to understand.  Nearly all voters (97%) rated the information on the EasyVote card as ‘very easy’ or ‘easy’ to understand.   This was slightly lower (94%) for non-voters.  The information on the location of the polling places was also rated ‘very easy’ and ‘easy’ to understand by 97 percent of voters and 92 percent of non-voters. 
  • Non-voters found some of the information in the EasyVote pack harder to understand than the voters did. Non-voters were significantly less likely than voters to rate information on party lists, electoral candidates’ names, opening hours for advance voting and MMP voting as ‘easy’ or ‘very easy’ to understand.
  • Most voters were satisfied with the EasyVote pack, and found the information in it useful.  Nearly all voters (93%) were either very satisfied (64%) or satisfied (29%) with the EasyVote pack.  Just over three-quarters of non-voters (77%) were either very satisfied (41%) or satisfied (36%) with the EasyVote pack.  Voters and non-voters in 2005 were significantly more likely than those in 2002 to say they were very satisfied with the EasyVote pack.  Both voters (92%) and non-voters (88%) rated the EasyVote pack as ‘useful’, and the majority of voters (84% in both 2002 and 2005) took the EasyVote card with them when they voted. 

Advertising

  • The recall of advertising by both voters and non-voters was significantly lower than in 2002. The majority of voters (83%) and non-voters (75%) recalled seeing or hearing some electoral advertising prior to the election.  This was significantly lower than the percentage of those who recalled advertising in 2002 (90% for voters and 86% for non-voters).  Television advertising was the most frequently recalled medium (89% of voters and 78% non-voters). The advertising met most voters’ and non-voters’ information needs with the majority of voters (81%) and non-voters (75%) stating they required no further information.  Just over a third of voters (35%) took a “Yes, I voted” sticker after they voted. 
  • The most frequently recalled advertising message was to vote in advance of election day.  Most voters, when prompted, recalled specific advertising about ‘vote in advance of election day’ (70%), followed by ‘use the EasyVote card’ (63%) and ‘vote close to home’ (59%).  Fewer voters recalled these messages compared to 2002.  Just over half the non-voters, when prompted, recalled seeing messages about voting in advance if they were going to be away on election day (51%) and voting close to home (50%).  Fewer voters recalled advertising about ‘use the EasyVote card when voting’ (42%) in 2005 compared to 2002. 

Voting behaviour

  • Voting behaviour in the 2005 general election was similar to 2002.  Most voters (92%) cast an ordinary vote and most voters (93%) voted at a polling place on election day.  Slightly more voters voted by themselves in 2005 (38%) compared to 2002 (33%). 
  • Most people voted close to home.  As in 2002, the majority voted close to home (91% in 2005 and 94% in 2002).  Less than half of the voters (42%) voted at the same place as in 2002, with the most common reason for this being that they had moved since 2002 (45%). 

Polling place

  • Compared to 2002, more respondents rated aspects of the polling places as excellent. The most frequently given reason for awareness of the polling place location was “read about it in my EasyVote pack” (44%), a significant increase from 2002 (31%).  The majority of voters rated the convenience of the location as excellent (85%), a statistically significant increase from 2002 (76%).  The number of voters who rated the signage indicating the venue was a polling place as excellent in 2005 (72%) also significantly increased from 2002 (57%).
  • Most voters thought that the length of time they spent at the polling place was reasonable.  Most (85%) did not have to queue at the polling place.  The proportion of voters who stated they had to queue in 2005 (15%) is slightly higher than the number in 2002 (8%).  Around three-quarters of voters (73%) spent up to five minutes at the polling place, which is similar to 2002 (76%).  As in 2002, nearly all the voters in 2005 (99% and 98% respectively) felt that the time they had spent at the polling place was reasonable given what they had to do. 
  • The majority of voters (80% or more) rated aspects of the polling place as ‘excellent’ or ‘neutral to excellent’.  In 2005, the following aspects of the polling place were significantly more likely to be rated as excellent (compared to 2002):
    • The physical layout
    • Signs inside the polling place directing voters where to go
    • The availability of the information on how to vote at the polling place.

As in 2002, the majority of voters in 2005 (90% and 91% respectively), did not experience any problems at the polling place.

  • Compared to 2002, all aspects of the ballot paper were significantly more likely to be rated as excellent. The majority of voters rated the ballot paper lay out, clarity of instructions and ease with which they found the name/person they wanted to vote for highly; with over 93 percent rating these factors as either ‘neutral to excellent’ or ‘excellent’. 
  • The majority of voters were satisfied with the service provided by the polling place staff.  Consistent with 2002, election staff were considered:
    • Pleasant and polite by nearly all voters, with 95 percent[1] rating the staff manner as either ‘excellent’ (85%) or ‘neutral to excellent’ (11%)
    • Efficient by most voters, with 96 percent[2] rating the staff efficiency as either ‘excellent’ (83%) or ‘neutral to excellent’ (12%). 
  • The election staff were also rated highly by most voters on their ability to answer questions.  Ninety-two percent[3] rated the staff as either ‘excellent’ (77%) or ‘neutral to excellent’ (14%).  This is an improvement on 2002, with significantly more voters rating staff as excellent at answering questions.

Election night results

  • Around three-quarters of voters (77%) followed the results on election night which was an increase from 2002 (68%).  Significantly fewer non-voters (47%) compared to voters followed the results on election night.  However this proportion of non-voters following the results was significantly greater than in 2002 (30%).  Television was the medium of choice to follow the results for both voters (98%) and non-voters (87%).  Overall, most voters (78%) were either very satisfied (42%) or satisfied (36%) with the timeliness of the results. 

Non-voters

  • The majority of non-voters had considered voting in the election at some point during the campaign, with most waiting until Election Day before deciding not to vote.  Nearly two-thirds of non-voters (66%) had considered voting in the 2005 election, with this percentage being higher for both Māori non-voters (72%), and youth non-voters (77%).  The majority of voters (53%) waited until election day before deciding not to vote; this is an increase from 44 percent in 2002.  Around two-fifths of non-voters (41%) put a lot of thought into deciding whether or not to vote. 
  • Non-voters gave a variety of reasons as to why they did not vote.  One-quarter of non-voters (25%) said that their main reason was that they ‘couldn’t be bothered with politics or politicians’.
  • When presented with a list of reasons for not voting, the three factors rated as having the greatest influence (the combined results of those that rated the factor as having ‘a lot’ and ‘a little’ amount of influence) for non-voters overall were:
    • It makes no different to my life who wins the election (35%)
    • I don’t trust politicians (34%)
    • I’m just not interested in politics (33%)
  • The three factors rated as having the least influence (‘not at all’ and ‘not really’ combined) for non-voters overall were:
    • I haven’t voted in the past so why start now (70%)
    • It was obvious who would win so why bother (63%)
    • I couldn’t see a difference between the parties’ policies (54%).

Conclusions

This survey suggests that overall, the service provided to voters by the Chief Electoral Office was effective and efficient.  The results also indicate that many aspects of the service had improved since the 2002 election.  Compared to 2002, there were significantly higher positive responses with respect to the following factors:

  • The physical layout of the polling places
  • The signs outside the polling places
  • The availability of information on how to vote in the polling places
  • The location of the polling places
  • Satisfaction with the EasyVote pack
  • All aspects of the ballot paper
  • The ability of polling place staff to answer questions.

Background

New Zealand has three electoral agencies with different responsibilities. 

The Chief Electoral Office (CEO) is responsible for the preparation and conduct of New Zealand’s general elections, by-elections and referenda.  This includes responsibility for providing information and services to candidates, political parties, voters and providing advice to Ministers on electoral issues.  The CEO is a division of the Ministry of Justice based in Wellington and has 15 permanent staff. 

The Electoral Enrolment Centre (a self-contained business unit of New Zealand Post) compiles and maintains the electoral rolls.  The Electoral Enrolment Centre also conducts the Māori Electoral Option.   

The Electoral Commission registers political parties and party logos and receives registered parties' annual returns of donations and returns of election expenses, allocates election-broadcasting time and funds to eligible political parties.  The Commission also produces public information about electoral matters.

Each parliamentary term, the CEO seeks to improve its service to the voting public and to the political parties and the candidates who contest elections.  The vision of the CEO is to ensure ‘widespread public and political confidence in the administration of the parliamentary electoral process’.

Objectives of the CEO for the 2005 general election were to:

  • Maintain the confidence of voters, candidates and parties in the administration of the election
  • Provide a better service for voters with disabilities
  • Improve all processes and methods, especially those relating to the complex post-election processes
  • Ensure policies have regard to the interests of Māori as tangata whenua.

TNS was commissioned to undertake the 2005 voter and non-voter survey to review the electoral experience of the eligible voting population and to ascertain why non-voters did not vote.

Research objectives

The overall aim of the research was to provide information to the CEO on the electoral experience of the eligible voting population.   

The CEO commissioned research to:

  • Evaluate its current performance by comparing voter and non-voter satisfaction to the last election
  • Identify areas in which its methods, processes and systems might be more effective and efficient for the future.
  • The research was comprised of two surveys; voters and non-voters.  Within each survey, a comparison was made of:
    • Attitudes of Māori and non-Māori for all questions
    • Attitudes of 18-24 year olds.

The survey was conducted using Computer Assisted Telephone Interviewing (CATI).  The survey commenced the day after the general election on 18/09/2005.  The voter survey was completed by 30/09/2005 and the non-voter survey was completed by 9/10/2005. 

Research methodology

Research population

The population of interest for the research were voters and non-voters.  A voter is an eligible enrolled elector who cast a vote at the 2005 general election and a non-voter is an eligible enrolled elector who did not cast a vote at the 2005 general election.

A person is eligible to vote if they:

  • are eighteen years or older, and
  • are a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and
  • have lived in New Zealand for a year or more without leaving the country, and
  • are not disqualified under the Electoral Act 1993 from enrolling.

Sample selection

Respondents were randomly selected from the electoral roll (either the general or the Māori roll).  The sample was nationwide. 

Sample size

The voter survey sample size was 1,004 with a margin of error of +/- 3.1%. The non-voter survey sample size was 226 with a margin of error of +/-

 

Last updated: 07 February 2013