How to Run an Exit Poll Part 2

Here are more instructions with links to help people who want to run an exit poll.  This is all pre-election day stuff to do but doesn’t include developing your sample survey form.  I’m going to devote a separate post to that.  I’ll link to it when it’s up.  I’m also planning an excel template that people can download, input their exit poll results and official polling location results to get an output of the probability of the difference between the occurring by chance alone.

Training:  I highly recommend running a short training session with your volunteers.  I think 30 minutes is sufficient, an hour if it’s a large group.   Go over the  instructions,  let them see the supplies (ballot box, survey forms, etc.), and have each participant go through some practice interactions with their fellow students.  It also gives everyone a chance to get acquainted prior to election day.

Schedule:  You’ll need to prepare a schedule in advance and co-ordinate with the volunteers to make sure they can and will be there for their appointed hours.   Here is the example-volunteer-schedule I used in my August primary exit poll.  Notice that some volunteers are tasked with bringing in fresh supplies.  Everyone got a copy of this ahead of time, so they knew when they were working and with whom.  Always have at least two volunteers manning the exit poll.  This is a basic safety precaution.  If one volunteer has a heart attack, the other will notice and call 911.

Tally Sheet:  You need a form for volunteers to record the number of refusals. Here is what I used in my August primary exit poll.  The time categories related to the hours different volunteers worked.  I taped a copy of this to the table and had the volunteers record their refusals.  Some volunteers kept separate tallies for themselves when it was busy and then later recorded them onto that page, which is also fine.

Supplies:  You’ll need to arrange for all supplies to be on site, including refreshments.  I had different volunteers bring refreshments through out the day. Suggested Supply List

Costs:   While many of the supplies are things you may already own or can be borrowed at no cost, printing hundreds of survey copies to be filled out will cost money.  I am estimating costs for the sites I am coordinating at $50 – $100 per site, including refreshments.

Another option is an electronic app.   I’m not using it for my sites because the advantage of voter marked hand-counted paper surveys is the same as for paper ballots.  On the other hand, I have donations sufficient to fund the needed supplies for exit polls I am coordinating, so my out-of-pocket costs are minimal.  If costs are a constraint, this is an acceptable alternative for the 2016 election.

 Permission Slip:  It’s not strictly required, but in addition to notifying the appropriate person regarding setting up your exit poll at their location, having documentation of permission by that person isn’t a bad idea.  I phoned and introduced myself, sent the person an email, and picked up the permission-slip in person weeks ahead of time.  I kept it on site at the exit poll.  No one confronted me about my right to be there, so it wasn’t needed.  But if someone does, it’s nice to have it.

2 thoughts on “How to Run an Exit Poll Part 2”

  1. Excellent list and instructions.
    Can’t think of anything else to add, possibly emphasizing that the exit poll needs to be conducted for the entire day with no time gaps. This is to prevent the results from being skewed based on demographics. For example if more old people vote early, it’s important to let them participate in the exit poll.

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