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2014 Colorado Election Survey
Robert M. Stein
Andrew Menger
Rice University
and
Greg Vonnahme
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Prepared for presentation at the Meetings of the Colorado County
Clerks Association, January 20-22, 2014, Pueblo, Colorado.
Support for this research was provided by the Pew Charitable Trusts
Research Questions
• What was the experience of the 2014 Colorado
voter with vote by mail?
• What proportion of 2014 Colorado voters
received a ballot in the mail?
• When, where and how did 2014 Colorado voters
cast and return their ballots?
• What proportion of 2014 Colorado voters took
advantage of the features of vote by mail?
• How confident were 2014 Colorado voters that
the U.S. postal service would deliver their mail
ballot securely and in a timely manner?
Survey Design
• Three waves of telephone interviews were
conducted with a sample of registered voters
beginning October 23 and ending November
10 for a total 1,560 completed interviews.
• Interviews were conducted with voters who
received a mail ballot and voters who
registered on or 21 before days Election Day.
• Response rate for the entire survey was 35%
Receipt of mailed ballots
• 92% of survey respondents reported receiving a
ballot by mail before the November, 2014
election.
• 77% of those who reported not receiving a ballot
in the mail reported updating their registration or
registering for the first time in 2014.
• Only 1.7% of our sample of voters reported not
receiving a ballot in the mail and being registered
to vote throughout 2014.
How satisfied are you with your
overall voting experience in 2014?
70
60
50
40
30
20
10
0
Very Satisfied
Satisfied
Dissatisfied
Very Dissatisfied
Dk
When and where voters balloted
• 8.2% of survey respondents completed their
ballots in person at a polling place.
– Why?
• 81% of persons who reported not receiving a ballot in the
mail completed their ballots in person at a polling place.
• 79% of persons who reported not receiving a ballot in the
mail also reported registering to vote in 2014.
• 49% Voters who reported voting in person at a polling place
prefer voting with other people; 24% of persons who
balloted by mail prefer to vote with others.
• 73% of in-person voters don’t mind waiting in line to vote,
only 45% of mail ballot voters expressed the same
preference.
Returning ballots
• Among voters who received a ballot in the
mail only 36% reported returning their ballot
by mail, 64% reported returning their ballot
in-person.
• Why?
– Do not trust the U.S. Postal Service.
– Uncertain their vote will be counted accurately.
– Do not value the advantages/conveniences of vote
by mail.
Voter satisfaction by method of
returning the ballot
Mail
In-Person
Very Satisfied
58%
59%
Satisfied
37%
37%
Dissatisfied
3%
3%
Very Dissatisfied
1%
2%
Taking advantage of the convenience
of voting by mail
• 85% of all voters filled out their ballot in one
day.
• 79% of all voters completed their ballot alone.
• 58% of all voters consulted other sources of
information when completing their ballot
– 32% internet
– 7% campaign literature
– 42% voter guide
0
.1
.2
.3
.4
Percent of persons who returned their ballot by
mail by level of confidence* in the Postal Service
Strongly Agree
Agree
Disagree
Strong Disagree
*Do you strongly agree, agree, disagree or strongly disagree with the statement: I trust the
U.S. Postal Service to deliver mail ballots securely and on time
Percent of persons who returned their ballot
by mail by level of confidence that their vote will be
counted as intended
Mean attitude score on positive attributes of
vote by mail 1 by method of returning ballot
Mean
Attribute
Mail
InPerson
I don’t like changing my daily routine to
2.61
2.78*
vote
I don’t mind waiting in line to vote
2.67
2.50*
Mail in voting gives one party an
3.20
3.00*
advantage
I like voting together with other people
2.99
2.75*
I like waiting until campaigns are over to
3.00
2.78*
vote
1
Strongly Agree =1, Agree=2, Disagree=3, Strongly Disagree=4. *
Difference of means significant, P <.05
* P <.05
Correlates of ballots returned by mail
• Received a ballot in the mail
• Trust the postal service to deliver mails ballots
securely and on time
• Trust that their ballot will be counted they
intended
• Prefer campaigning to end before voting
• Rent rather than own their residence
• Voted in the 2014 primary election
Correlates of ballots returned
in-person
•
•
•
•
Hispanic
Male
Prefer not to change their daily routine to vote
Contacted by a campaign after receiving a
mail ballot
Conclusions
• An overwhelming majority of voters were satisfied (37%) or very
satisfied (59%) with their overall voting experience.
• Voters expected (88%) and received (92%) a ballot mailed to their
residence before Election Day.
• Contrary to expectations, 67% of all voters and 64% of voters who
received a ballot in the mail chose to return their completed ballot
in-person at a voter service center or drop-off location.
• Voter satisfaction with their overall voting experience in 2014 does
not vary by how the voter chose to return their ballot, i.e., by mail
or in-person.
• A larger number of voters did not avail themselves of several
expected advantages/conveniences of voting by mail including:
– Taking multiple days to complete their ballot (16%)
– Voting with and in consultation with others (21%)
– Consulting information while completing the ballot e.g. internet (58%)
Conclusions, continued
• Reducing the proportion of votes returned inperson might increase the cost savings from
vote by mail.
• Election officials may be able to accelerate this
process by providing more information to the
voters on how mailed votes are kept secret
and giving statistics on how quickly and
accurately ballots go from the hands of the
voter to the county through the postal system.
Going forward
• Cost analysis of vote by mail (April-May)
• County level analysis of performance (June)
• Increasing ballots returned by mail
– Proposed experiments for 2015
– Informational mail inserts
• US. Post Service performance
• Spoiled ballot counts
• Early returns by mail cost saving
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