Voter and Non-voter Satisfaction Survey 2002

The full Voter and Non-voter satisfaction survey for the 2002 General Election is available for download below.

Executive summary

Introduction

The Chief Electoral Office (CEO) is responsible for the conduct of Parliamentary general elections, by-elections and referenda. The Chief Electoral office is a division of the Ministry of Justice.  This survey of voters and non-voters is designed to test the Chief Electoral Office’s performance from a public perspective in conducting the 2002 general election. In particular it is designed to test the level of satisfaction of Voters with that conduct.  Following problems with the conduct of the 1999 general election, a number of legislative and administrative changes were made for 2002.

The aims were to:

  • Increase the efficiency of the electoral process, for example by improving counting methods.
  • Reduce the barriers to voting, for example by issuing a personalised EasyVote Card/and information pack to each elector.

Methodology

The voters and non-voters surveys were conducted by telephone, from BRC’s CATI-enabled call centre in downtown Wellington.  In accordance with the code of practice of the Market Research Society of New Zealand Inc., all potential respondents were sent an “introductory” letter explaining the purpose of the research prior to interviewers contacting them. Respondents were selected from sample frames provided by the Electoral Enrolment Centre.  Interviewing took place between 28 July and 5 August 2002 for the voters survey, but interviewing for the non-voters survey was not completed until 31 August 2002, after the Electoral Enrolment Centre had provided a non-voters listing. 

A total of n=1,029 respondents were interviewed for the voters survey and a total of n=302 for the non-voters survey. In both cases, Maori were over-sampled so that sufficient numbers were interviewed for analysis and reporting purposes. Weighting at the processing stage corrected for this stratification and ensured the total samples were representative in terms of ethnicity.

Key findings & conclusions

Overall conclusion

Given the feedback from the voters and non-voters surveys, the changes made possible by the Electoral Amendment Bill and initiatives taken by the Chief Electoral Office have had a positive impact on “voter satisfaction”.

Voters

The key findings for voters may be summarised as follows:

1.  Voters see the voting process as efficient.

  • 99% of all voters considered the amount of time they spent in the polling place they voted in was “reasonable”
  • 76% of all voters spent less than five minutes in the polling place they voted in
  • 92% reported they did not have to queue
  • 84% took their EasyVote card with them
  • Over one-half (58%) of voters who also voted in the 1999 general election reported they spent “less time” in the polling place.

2.  Voters rated the polling places they voted in highly.

  • 80% rated the polling place as “excellent” in terms of how well equipped it was (96% rated it positively on this aspect overall)
  • 76% rated it as “excellent” in terms of the convenience of its location (95% overall)
  • 71% rated it as “excellent” in terms of the privacy it provided (89% overall)
  • 65% rated it as “excellent” in terms of general layout (90% overall)
  • In comparison, indoor and outdoor signage were rated less positively (e.g. 56% rated the polling place as “excellent” in terms of its indoor signage (79% overall) ).

3.  Voters rated the staff in the polling places they voted in highly.

  • 83% rated the staff as “excellent” in terms of how pleasant and polite they were (97% overall)
  • 82% rated the staff as “excellent” in terms of how efficient they were (96% overall)

4.  Information provided about the voting process was rated positively.

  • 90% of voters reported hearing or seeing advertising about the voting process
  • 74% of these voters recalled a key message of that advertising was to “vote in advance”, while 69% recalled another key message was “take your EasyVote card when you go to vote”
  • 99% acknowledged receipt of their voter information pack
  • 88% of these voters reported they had read or glanced through the contents of their pack
  • The information they found particularly helpful included the information on their EasyVote card (49%), information about the location of polling places (28%) and information about candidates (25%)
  • 95% reported they were satisfied with the information they had received in their voter information pack. In fact, almost one-half (47%) rated their satisfaction by giving the best possible rating score (i.e. “very satisfied).
  • 84% of voters also rated their satisfaction with the other information they had received (i.e. other than the voter information pack) about the voting process positively
  • 78% of voters claimed they had no other information needs when specifically asked.

5.  The timeliness of the election results was rated positively.

  • 68% of voters reported they had followed the election results as they came in on election night
  • When asked specifically about the timeliness of the results, 94% of voters who followed the election results claimed they were satisfied.

Non-voters

The key findings for non-voters may be summarised as follows:

1.  Most non-voters reported they did not vote because of a disinterest in politics.

  • Most reasons given by non-voters for not voting related to a disinterest in politics and a feeling of disenfranchisement.
  • 31% of non-voters reported they put “no thought” into their decision not to vote, while another 32% claimed they put “little thought” into their decision.

2.  Few non-voters reported they did not vote because of reasons to do with the actual voting process.

  • Very few, if any reasons given by non-voters for not voting directly related to the voting process itself (i.e. because they did not know how to vote, when to vote or where to vote). In fact;
    • 82% of non-voters reported they knew where the most conveniently located polling place to them was situated
    • 86% reported they were aware of advertising about the voting process (of those non-voters aware of this advertising, 66% could recall that a key message was to “vote in advance” and 58% could recall another key message was to “take their EasyVote card when they went to vote”
    • 88% acknowledged receipt of their voter information pack (of those non-voters acknowledging receipt of their pack, 72% reported they had read or glanced through its contents)
    • 51% found some information in the pack useful and 88% rated their satisfaction with the pack in general as positive
    • 67% also rated their satisfaction with other information they had received (i.e. other than the voter information pack) about the voting process as positive (in fact, when given the opportunity to identify other information needs, 64% of non-voters claimed that no other information would have been useful)

3.  The timeliness of the election results was also rated positively by non-voters.

  • 30% of non-voters reported they followed the election results as they came in on election night.
  • When asked specifically about timeliness of the results, 88% of non-voters who followed the results claimed they were satisfied.

Voter information pack and EasyVote card

A personalised pack, including an EasyVote card for use at the polling place, was mailed to every voter enrolled at writ day (25 June 2002). The EasyVote card contained the name, address, electorate and reference number of each elector, the reference number being the page and line number on the electoral roll where the voter could be found.

The pack also contained:

  • Advice about voting in advance.
  • Advice on special voting.
  • Polling places in the electorates.
  • Candidates for the electorates.
  • The party lists for each political party contesting the party vote.

Voters who enrolled after writ day were (if time allowed) sent a voter information pack containing everything except the EasyVote card. The letter was designed to be taken to the polling place to assist voting.

Media

The Chief Electoral Office conducted an intensive media campaign in the three weeks prior to the general election explaining the EasyVote and other key concepts. The campaign was integrated with that of the Electoral Enrolment Centre including the development of a common creative approach.

Maori roll

Voters on the Maori roll were, for the first time, able to cast a vote in their electorate on exactly the same basis as a voter on the general roll.

Objectives

As “voter satisfaction” is a key indicator of the Chief Electoral Office’s performance and given especially the nature of the changes it made directly impacting on voters, the agency determined that it required objective feedback from those eligible to vote in the 2002 general election. More specifically, feedback was required from two specific groups:

  • Voters (who represented approximately 75% of the total number of eligible electors who were enrolled for the 2002 general election).
     
  • Non-voters (who represented approximately 25% of the total number of eligible electors enrolled). Given the fundamental difference between voters and non-voters, the CEO required each of the surveys to focus on providing different information outputs, although there would be some areas of overlap (e.g. in the information provision area):
    • The survey of voters was specifically required to assess satisfaction with the voting process.
    • The survey of non-voters was specifically required to identify the reasons for not voting. Given the CEO’s electoral responsibilities, it is important to determine to what extent non-voters do not vote because of factors within the CEO’s control (e.g. because they were ill-informed or because of some barrier to voting that occurred when they arrived at the polling place).

Importantly, the CEO required the two surveys to be undertaken in such a way that a sufficient number of Maori voters and non-voters were interviewed to enable their feedback to be considered with complete confidence.

Methodology

Sampling

Respondents for the voters survey were contacted and interviewed as follows:

  • At first, eligible electors who were enrolled as at writ day were randomly selected from the electoral rolls provided by the Electoral Enrolment Centre.
  • Maori electors were randomly selected, in proportion, from both the general and Maori rolls.
  • In order to ensure all potential respondents would be contacted by BRC interviewers on an informed consent basis, a letter of “introduction” was sent to all electors who were selected. This letter ‘positioned’ the research in general terms, explained what would be involved in the interviewing process, and emphasised that participation was voluntary and any information provided would be treated in the strictest confidence. BRC’s freephone number was also provided in order to field enquiries from potential respondents.
  • BRC interviewers then made up to three attempts to contact potential respondents before they were substituted. When contact was established, a ‘filter’ question was asked at the beginning of the interview in order to ensure the person being spoken to was eligible to participate (i.e. they had voted in the 2002 general election). This questionnaire was developed with assistance from the Chief Electoral Office.

The response rate for this survey was 43%.

A similar interviewing process was followed for the non-voters survey, with a certain proportion of non-voters identified and interviewed during the completion of the voters survey (43%) and the remainder interviewed after the Electoral Enrolment Centre had provided a listing of non-voters.

The response rate for the non-voters survey was 49%.

Sample size & weighting

The size of the samples for the voters and non-voters surveys were determined with the assistance of the Chief Electoral Office.

As noted above, given the interest in examining the results for Maori, Maori were over-sampled for both surveys. Of the total n=1,029 respondents interviewed for the voters survey, Maori represented 33% (n=342). Of the total n=302 respondents interviewed for the non-voters survey, Maori represented 43% (n=130).

Weighting at the processing stage corrected for this stratification. Weighting is a common practice in market and social research, with the weighting parameters used based on the Electoral Enrolment Centre’s rolls for the 2002 general election.

Analysis & presentation of the results

Given that the voters and non-voters surveys have been undertaken with characteristically distinct groups of people, analysis by demographic variables has been limited to an analysis of the results by ethnicity (i.e. comparisons based on Maori and Non- Maori).

Also included as an appendix is a comparison of the current results with those achieved in relation to the 1996 general election. This election was selected as a comparative base given that the 1999 general election included two referenda.

Margins of error & significance tests

Total sample results based on the voters survey of n=1,029 are subject to a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 3.1% at the 95% confidence level. This means that, if we found that 50% of voters had blue eyes, we could be confident of obtaining the same results plus or minus 3.1% (i.e. within the range of 46.9% and 53.1%) in at least 95 of 100 repeat surveys.

Given the smaller total sample size, results based on the total sample of n=302 non-voters are subject to a maximum margin of error of plus or minus 5.6% at the 95% confidence level.

Note that results based on sub-samples for both surveys are subject to larger margins of error than those that apply at the total sample level.

 

 

Last updated: 07 February 2013