How to run an Election Exit Poll

I’m working to set up multiple exit polls here in Kansas in November.  I thought that people in other areas might be interested in setting one up themselves. You need just one dedicated individual along with a few additional volunteers working a few hours apiece can pull this off.  You may also need to expend from $50 to $150 on supplies like making copies of your surveys and refreshments to offer voters.

The dedicated individual is the exit poll site manager.  The additional volunteers only need to spend a few hours on election day soliciting voters to complete surveys.  Two people should be manning the exit poll booth at all times, just in case any emergency situations arise.  This post outlines what an exit poll site manager needs to do to run a successful exit poll.

The approach I recommend is called cluster sampling.  Each site provides an independent check on the accuracy of the official counts at that polling station. If we combine information from multiple sites, the data can provide excellent precision for determining whether the discrepancies found are reasonable and evenly distributed or if they show evidence of systemic bias, which would indicate problems with our votes having been counted accurately.

This approach means that you need to try to contact all voters at that location to request they complete an exit poll survey.  The reason for this is that the purpose of this exit poll is to validate the official results at that location.   It is not to make predictions prior to the close of polls.  It is not to analyze for demographic information afterwards.  It is to validate the official results.  By concentrating our efforts at relatively few polling stations, we can attain a higher level of confidence that the results of our survey are representative of the polling location.

The first thing to ask is method they voted.  In my location, there are three options – by machine, by a scanner paper ballot, or by provisional ballot.  At the end of the day, I get the counts of votes cast for each candidate by machine and my scanned paper ballot.  Provisional votes are not counted until a determination is made of whether that person was allowed to cast the ballot. The exit poll results for provisional ballots can be compared to the accepted ballots.  If significant deviations occur, that is a measure of the impact of voter suppression attempts, such as voter ID laws.

Before finalizing your design of the exit poll survey, you will need to select a location.  Contact your local elections office and get a list of all the polling locations.  Let them know you are planning a citizens exit poll and ask if they have any regulations or laws that would affect that.  In Sedgwick County, the only significant rule was that we could only approach people after they voted, not before.   There is also a law regarding distance for any electioneering, but as long as we only approach exiting voters, this would not be a concern.

Site Manager Duties:

The site manager is the point person for everything to do with an exit poll at polling place.  They will be there in the morning to set everything up and they will wait at the polling location to get the official results when the machines have finished printing out the records.  They will not need to be there the entire day, but they do need to be available if any problems arise.

Prior to Election Day:

  1. Select polling location:  Site managers need to consider the polling places available near their home, perhaps even scout the locations to make a determination about which they would prefer to exit poll.  You will need to contact the owner/manager of that location and inform them of what you will be doing.  Find out if they have any concerns and address them or refer them back to me.  Obtain written permission to be on their premises to conduct this survey when appropriate.
  2.  Finalize Survey:  While there will be three races applicable to all of Sedgwick County, because site managers decide what locations they will monitor, they have the option to add additional questions specific to their polling place such as state legislators or judges.
  3. Prepare Supplies:  The site manager will decide on and arrange for all supplies to be there.  Tables, Chairs, Refreshments, survey forms, ballot box, etc. Suggested Supply List
  4. Schedule volunteers:  We’ll need to meet together to accomplish this. I’ll keep a list of volunteers and we can discuss where volunteers are needed and when.  I’m also going to see if I can get some student help for the times before and after school, which is often the busy times at polling locations as well.

Election Day – It’s a long day, but this could be split up between two people, say a morning manager and an evening manager.   

  1. Set up:  The site manager arrives half an hour before the polling station opens.  They set up the exit poll booth, making sure everything is ready for the first voter of the day.
  2. Maintain:  The site manager is the person on call for any issues that arise.  But they should be close by, available to take care of whatever issue might arise.  Run out of survey forms?  The site manager will bring more.  Volunteer calls in that they can’t make it after all? The site manager either fills in or finds someone there who can.
  3. Close down:  The site manager will be responsible for securing the completed survey forms and counting them.  The site manager will ensure the booth area is cleaned up and all borrowed equipment is returned.
  4. Official Results:  The site manager will need to remain on the premises to collect the official results for that polling location.  Meet with election officials for your location sometime in the morning, letting them know you will doing this.  They should allow you to examine the results tape for yourself.  However, if they object, you can ask them to fill out your survey form for the machine results and the scanned paper ballots results from the printouts.  In addition, ask them to give you the total number of provisional ballots turned in for that location.



After Election Day:

  1. Count your results
  2. Publicly post both the official results and your exit poll results for your polling location or email me your results and I’ll post them on my site


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6 thoughts on “How to run an Election Exit Poll”

  1. Beth, your important information should be made known to Election Justice USA and the Green Party’s Presidential Candidate, Dr. Jill Stein as she is much more likely to do something to help voters and democracy:
    Today, we are raising $1M to #OccupyTheDebates. Help us blast through establishment ceiling:

    Evidence is mounting that there is a green “sleeping giant” out there among the national electorate. I would urge you …

    Don’t listen to the national polls!

    Because in some states, according to recent news from Ajamu and I are polling as high as 27%! See this graphic
    ( from
    Community Heat Map
    Based on your location, We The People shows what people nearby think about the 2016 election through our heat map interface.)
    – the green squares are green support … it’s even higher than Hillary Clinton! In Oregon, the polls are even showing to be as high as 69%!

 It’s my belief that the American electorate will surge green on election day – that there will be some big surprises! How could there not be? We’re talking about Trump and Clinton, two of the most unpopular candidates in history!

 The American people want more choices and more voices – and that will be evident on November 8th.

    Jill and Ajamu’s star is rising. In fact, we know there is a green “sleeping giant” out there. How?

    Well one reason is because of

    A quick promo about it: Meet We The People is a mobile app that gives the people a real voice. It lets you discuss politics anonymously, get the top news, and see who the people support in real-time heat maps. It was featured on NPR, The Daily Caller, Bostinno and iTunes Store front page.

    Have a look at this heat map of the United States. Jill and Ajamu are showing ahead of even Clinton and Johnson!

    We must problem solve the following:
    Fraction Magic – Part 1: Votes are being counted as fractions instead of as whole numbers

    By Bev Harris May 12, 2016

    1 – Summary –
    This report summarizes the results of our review of the GEMS election management system, which counts approximately 25 percent of all votes in the United States. The results of this study demonstrate that a fractional vote feature is embedded in each GEMS application which can be used to invisibly, yet radically, alter election outcomes by pre-setting desired vote percentages to redistribute votes. This tampering is not visible to election observers, even if they are standing in the room and watching the computer. Use of the decimalized vote feature is unlikely to be detected by auditing or canvass procedures, and can be applied across large jurisdictions in less than 60 seconds.

    GEMS vote-counting systems are and have been operated under five trade names: Global Election Systems, Diebold Election Systems, Premier Election Systems, Dominion Voting Systems, and Election Systems & Software, in addition to a number of private regional subcontractors. At the time of this writing, this system is used statewide in Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Mississippi, New Hampshire, Utah and Vermont, and for counties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming. It is also used in Canada.

    Fractionalized vote:

    Instead of “1” the vote is allowed to be 1/2, or 1+7/8, or any other value that is not a whole number.

    What fractionalized votes can do:

    They allow “weighting” of races. Weighting a race removes the principle of “one person-one vote” to allow some votes to be counted as less than one or more than one. Regardless of what the real votes are, candidates can receive a set percentage of votes. Results can be controlled. For example, Candidate A can be assigned 44% of the votes, Candidate B 51%, and Candidate C the rest.

    GEMS fractionalizes votes in three places:

    The “Summary” vote tally, which provides overall election totals for each race on Election Night
    The “Statement of Votes Cast”, which provides detailed results by precinct and voting method (ie. Polling, absentee, early, provisional)
    The “undervote” count

    From Greg Palast:
    Join Congressman Alcee Hastings, voting rights attorney Santiago Juarez, Code Pink’s Medea Benjamin and thousands more in fighting the new Jim Crow.

    His name is now Dr. James Crow, systems analyst – but he’s just as dangerous to your vote.

    Over the last year, for Rolling Stone, I’ve been investigating the newest way that the GOP is trying to steal the vote. In the newly released investigation I detail just how Donald Trump’s border-wall planner created the voter suppression program, “Interstate Crosscheck.”

    Just give me 4 minutes – and WATCH how the New Jim Crow secretly works:

    This GOP computer program has wrongly placed 7.2 MILLION voters on a list of those suspected as voting twice, a felony crime. The suspect list of potential criminals contains an astonishing ONE IN SEVEN voters of color in the 29 Crosscheck states.

    While partisan officials have kept the list confidential, the Palast team obtained names of over one million of the accused.

    The ONLY evidence they have that you voted or registered in two states is that you share a first name and last name with another voter. A typical example: Maria ISABEL Hernandez of Virginia is supposedly the same voter as Maria CRISTINA Hernandez of Louisiana.

    Tens of thousands of voters have already been purged in a single state. As many as one million will lose their right to vote by this November.

    Experts have stated the Crosscheck system, directed for 29 states by the highly partisan Secretary of State of Kansas, is “dangerously biased against minorities.” As the great civil rights leader Rev. Joseph Lowery said of Crosscheck, “This is Jim Crow all over again.”

    Click here to sign the petition to the US Department of Justice to force these states to divulge their Crosscheck blacklists — and STOP THE PURGE NOW.
Election Justice USA shared their event. 37 mins ·

    Election Justice USA is promoting our first NATIONAL #ElectionAction events in support of HAND COUNTED PAPER BALLOTS! If YOU are CONCERNED about the integrity of our electoral process and are interested in doing your part to uphold our democracy

    We will have speakers who will give us the information about our LIVE STREAM ‘Teach In’ where we will get educated on Hand Counted Paper Ballots from Virginia Martin who is the Columbia County Election Commissioner already successfully implementing HCBP! We will also be given the tools we need to empower our Day of Action for October 11th from Billy Taylor who orchestrated the DNC rally in Philly!

    WHAT CAN YOU DO?! Here are the following teams we are looking to fill:

    RESEARCH: Points of contact for your county election commissioners as well as state laws regarding actions including civil disobedience

    SOCIAL MEDIA: Those who are proficient in fb, twitter, etc to promote

    OUTREACH: We need to contact organizations who would like to support in solidarity

    VOLUNTEER REP: We need help finding and greeting new volunteers and getting them to the right #electionaction team on fb.

    FUNDRAISING: We need help from those proficient in fundraising

    Please tell us about yourself by clicking the link below! And we look forward to seeing you on the call Sunday!! (712) 770-4700 access code #243595

    Thank you for all you do to ensure Election Justice!

    In Solidarity,

    Tamborine Borrelli

    Election Justice USA

    #ElectionAction Team Lead

    Expanding the Debate: October 4th Vice-Presidential Debate
    October 04, 2016
    On Tuesday, October 4, Democracy Now! will host special live coverage of the first U.S. vice-presidential debate from Richmond, VA. We will air the full debate between Republican VP nominee Mike Pence and Democratic VP nominee Tim Kaine and “expand” the debate by giving third-party candidates a chance to respond in real time to the same questions. Green Party VP nominee Ajamu Baraka has already agreed to participate. We have also invited Libertarian VP nominee William Weld. Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman will moderate a pre-debate roundtable from 8-9pm ET, followed by the expanded vice presidential debate from 9-11:30 pm ET.

    Please pardon me. After attending the phone conference for hand counted paper ballots put on by Election Justice USA and afterward waiting for any re-thinking of their position in a facebook on-line community conversation, (which never happened as they took coordinating off of facebook and put behind a little known site for which you have to register much information), I now think that the approach of Election Justice USA is wrong. They should call their real approach:

    — Keep current rigged system in power by using E-scanning machines to count punch hole paper ballots on Election Night.
    — Then Election Justice USA wants to lock up the paper ballots overnight giving two keys to two different people (same poll workers as previous elections most likely) after ballots are e-scanned and e-tabulated results are released to state and media, and
    — Finally hand count the ballots the day after the election.
    — And, EJUSA wants this to be a long term solution slowly approached, rather than count the paper ballots this election which could very conceivability help Dr. Jill Stein to help us all to reverse climate collapse, a jobs and economic depression, a racist judicial system, neocon/neolib war, and horrible student debt.

    I don’t think they have legitimate solutions unless they publicly back track on what they have first offered.

    Because scanners have all the build in manipulation of other forms of electronic voting, recall Al Gore’s NEGATIVE -16,000 votes on one scamming, I mean scanning machine in Florida.

    Recall that registration rolls were scrubbed of Democrats, especially minority progressive voters.

    It was not widely reported, but Dan Rather had a report on the company that had historically supplied the paper ballots. They intentionally ordered new paper that knowingly shrank from Florida’s humidity, causing a problem with lining up with machine punch holes. The workers at the company knowing what would happen with that particular paper would not sign for the ballots which were delivered anyway. The voting machine companies, or polling clerks did not empty the trays that held the punched holes from previous elections, meaning that it became almost impossible to punch through the chad because it was not aligned correctly and there was hard resistance from the chad filled tray.

    Then Gov Bush and Catherine Harris stopped all hand counts to stop Al Gore from winning in a very public way, despite so many non reporting paper ballots – chads still in place, no light to go through to count a vote.

    The Republicans created a higher standard of acceptance of these handing chads, so that even though in Texas the chad standard was one corner punched through indicated voter’s intent, in Florida the standard became three disconnected corners of the chad in order for the vote to count. Then the media made fun of the people counting the ballots straining to see punched through corners. Vote counting, so therefore Democracy, became laughable.

    While calling Gore litigious, it was Gov Bush who took the case all the way to the supreme court which illegally handed the election to George Bush.

    Clint Curtis, a Republican, and computer programmer, testified to writing the code to switch votes which was asked for by Republican Florida Speaker of the House Fenney.

    So, you see too many issues, it is a very bad idea to use the same corporate owned e-scanning machines first, then count by hand the next day, allowing time to have the ballots “adjusted” to match the machine count.

    So pardon me, I have more posts to try to undo what I thought was a legitimate effort at hand counting paper ballots.

    The Latest Update on Our California exit polls September 28, 2016
    Breaking News: Our David v. Goliath battle begins in Ohio!

    I am writing to inform you of an amazing opportunity available to you to possibly effect a major change in our system of reporting vote counts in the United States. For years, as we have reported to you. Edison Media Research has refused to release the raw data they gather during their exit polls. Raw data from exit polls is adjusted to fit the vote totals that come in from our vote tabulators across the country. The Media Consortium which hires Edison Media Research (EMR) uses the vote totals coming in from the tabulators as the real vote count. Normally, in other countries, exit poll data is supposed to show you what the real vote totals are. If the exit polls differ significantly from the computerized vote totals, the winning politician may be winning from electronic vote manipulation as opposed to the vote of the people.

    As you may know, there was a highly significant, unexplainable difference reported in the exit polls in the Democratic primary for twelve states this year between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. Although Bernie appeared to be winning more votes than Hillary, based on the voters leaving the polls, at the end of the day there was a huge discrepancy in 12 states between the exit poll data and the official vote awarded Clinton. When attorney Cliff Arnebeck, an associate of attorney Robert Fitrakis requested that EMR release its raw data on the Democratic primary, EMR not only refused to release the raw data but canceled all further exit polls for the remaining primary elections. An emergency exit poll that sponsored in three counties in California, Alameda county, Santa Clara county and Contra Costa County revealed that Bernie Sanders won over Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary by 7.9% rather than 3.1% as shown in the California Secretary of State’s website. It appears that the votes in these counties were electronically manipulated.

    Robert Fitrakis together with the support of many small donors associated with was able to file a lawsuit against EMR. Please click on the PDF links below to read a copy of our original lawsuit. Baker & Hostetler LLP, the law firm connected with Edison Media Research reports a company income of $650 million dollars a year. They have responded to our lawsuit with a motion to dismiss it.

    The donation totals of are only a tiny fraction of this amount. Battling Baker and Hostetler and Edison Media Research will be truly a David v.Goliath battle! If we win in this lawsuit, Bob Fitrakis has been willing to fight Baker and Hostetler’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit for very little. Nonetheless, Bob estimates that still we will need at least $20,000 more to pursue this lawsuit against Edison Media Research all the way to the end.

    If we prevail in this lawsuit, we will be able to see the raw data collected by EMR during the last primary. Bernie Sanders will be able to see the more accurate percentages of votes that he really received before the exit polls were edited. And both the USA and the rest of the world, will become aware of the editing of American exit polls that happens routinely in the higher office elections in the US on a regular basis.

    $4500 was already raised by donors to start this lawsuit and maintain it up to this point. THANK YOU, THANK YOU for all of your donations thus far!! Can we count on you to contribute more to help us win this lawsuit? Many donors have donated small amounts towards these very important issues. Whatever you can give, large or small will be DEEPLY appreciated! With many people donating $10 and $20 dollars, the total contribution amount begins to mount up. And, just yesterday, a donor has agreed to match any of your donations dollar for dollar!

    So the battle has really begun! Come help us transform elections in our country, have a voting system we can count on and create a true democracy here in our country!

    Very Sincerely,

    Lori Grace

  3. Please pardon me again. Though short of publicly hand counted paper ballots, this intermediate potential solution involves saving scanned ballot images from Scanning Machines which I decried above. The only recourse for being wrong, is trying to correct:

    Since Clinton is preemptively blaming Russia for any election hacking, and Trump is saying a Rigged Election is possible, then they both should openly call for following solution:

    A few days ago, we told you about the problem of fractionalizing votes. I mentioned that we would be sending you a letter with a really good solution that has worked once before and could work again. Although votes can be fractionalized while adding them up, the ballot images (pictures taken of the ballots) can not be reduced to fractions. The solution is to issue temporary restraining orders in swing state counties so that the ballot images can be preserved. The act of issuing TRO’s will also be a deterrent in itself to fractionalizing votes in an effort to steal the election. This process could apply to all elections, presidential, state and county elections as well as bond issues and propositions. 

    If you are interested in getting involved in making this happen, if you are a lawyer and if you know a lawyer or lawyers who might also be interested in preserving ballot images using TRO’s, please contact us at as soon as possible, as we will need to issue these TRO’s for the most part BEFORE the election. And, as you might expect, organizing this effort will require money. So please DONATE WHATEVER YOU CAN to support to fight election fraud in our country.

    THANK YOU SO MUCH on behalf of TrustVote and our challenged democracy!


    Bev Harris has been studying how votes are fractionalized. She call it “Fraction Magic” When adding up votes, the tabulator can fractionalize the votes if it is programmed that way. She has been working with John Brakey on how to PRESERVE BALLOT IMAGES. Bev Harris has happily discovered that images of the ballots CANNOT BE FRACTIONALIZED. That is why they must be preserved. Please read more by clicking on the following link:  

    In any election where scanners are used, these systems could create a higher level of transparency and reliability if we prevent the ballot images from being destroyed and prevent the audit file system called Cast Vote Record (CVR) from being disconnected. Many states currently have these systems, now capable of capturing ballot images and numbering ballots. This leaves an opening for easier verification of election results.

    States that have these ES&S scanners in some of their counties include Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Utah, Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming and others.  California has some Dominion scanners that take ballot images.

    These scanners are also approved of by the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC).
    To find out what type of voting equipment your county is using, click on “The Verifier” and find your county:  Please note, that information is over a year old. To be certain of the machines used in our own back yard, call your election department to find out what machines are being used in this election cycle.


    Election activist John Brakey and attorney William Risner assert that destroying ballot images is against Federal law: Federal law 52 U.S.C § 20701 requiring retention of federal election materials, provides a penalty of up to $1,000 fine and one year in jail for premature destruction of that material (was formerly 42 U.S.C § 1974).

    For the November elections, Brakey and Risner recommend the following strategy:

    • File a public record request (ASAP) asking for ballot images for the last and the next election. The request should include other critical documents like the Cast Vote Record (CVR). We can provide a draft of what to request.

    • If ballot images are or have been destroyed then file a special action Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which is usually easy to request.

• If they refuse your public records request for “ballot images,” then file another special action in the form of a Mandamus Act. When you win they have to pay all expenses and legal fees.

    Additional efforts that may be necessary and are suggested by AUDIT-AZ member Mickey Duniho, a retired former NSA Cryptologist for 37 years. His recommendations are being added to our TRO. 

    • Do not transfer results from the DS850 to the central count computer until election day; 

    • Print the cast vote record serial number on each ballot so that an audit can link back to the original ballot as per how the system was federal certified by EAC; 

    • Mark every storage box containing ballots with the range of serial numbers contained in the box, so that an audit can easily find the box containing a ballot of interest.

There is a lot of reliable evidence if ballot images are not destroyed and if recounts are initiated using the ES&S audit file. With respect to this election, there are many of these scanners in the swing states.

    In the interest of fair and transparent elections, it is our hope that citizens and interested attorneys will call upon their states to retain the ballot images and invite citizens and interested election officials to do recounts when they are concerned about their results

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