This is part 3 of my “How-to-Run-an-Exit-Poll-Series.
The exit poll survey ballot is important, but not complicated. The only question of interest, other than their ballot choices, is the method of voting. Data will be available at the end of the day with separate totals for the machine cast votes and the scanned paper votes. There will be no official count of provisional votes at this station, so we can only compare those votes to overall total for the polling station. But that comparison allows us to evaluate whether the giving people provisional votes amounts to a voter suppression tactic.
Since space on our survey form is at a premium, and because including that information makes their response less anonymous, I do not recommend including questions about age, race or gender. Generally speaking, you want to keep the words to minimum. (Not an easy task for me.)
Here is an example survey I have developed for exit polls in Sedgwick Co. I included a short paragraph at the top because I feel it’s important to let people know why you want this information and reassure them that results are anonymous, just like their vote.
The first question is really too long, but I wanted to be as clear as I can about this question. In Sedgwick County Kansas there are three possible options: A vote cast via electronic voting machine, a paper ballot that the voter feeds into a scanner for on-site electronic counting or a provisional ballot – a paper ballot that is sealed into an envelop to be counted later (maybe).
Asking about the specific races is straightforward. State the office and then list the candidates. Circling answers reduces the need for a blank or box to check. It saves space on the page.
Staggering the answers for questions with more than one line of answers (ex: Pres) makes it easier to discern the voters intent. When they are stacked one above another, the answer may easily become ambiguous.
Since a single polling location will have multiple precincts voting there, it’s a problem asking about races where different precincts will be voting for different candidates. Generally, I want to confine the questions to races that will appear on every ballot at the polling location. On the other hand, my site managers for the SW Wichita location are very interested in the county commissioner races. We arrived at the following:
Who did you vote for your County Commissioner Race? (Select one for District 2 OR District 3) – sw-wichita-nov-8-exit-poll-ballot
I have hopes that we won’t get too many voters identifying their choices for both district 2 and district 3, but I expect we will get some. OTOH, it’s the only question that would be spoiled and I’m reasonably comfortable in assuming that such mishaps are equally likely to occur regardless of which candidate they support. I think we will get good data from this exit poll.
How to Run an Exit Poll Part 2