Government

University of West Florida Haas Center to study election process

The Escambia County Supervisor of Elections Office and the Haas Center at the University of West Florida is undertaking a new study to determine how satisfied voters are with the types and availability of voting options in the county.

“For quite some time, we have wanted to conduct a study to try to gauge voter attitudes and opinions in Escambia County,” said David Stafford, Escambia County supervisor of elections. “With higher voter participation in a presidential election year, this seemed like the perfect time to conduct this project.”

The study will assess the ease and efficiency of the voting process and the voters’ knowledge of voting options, locations and other general election information.

“The research will be starting up with a pilot study for the August primary and then larger data collection for the November general (election),” said Amy Newburn, assistant director of the Haas Center.

Voter turnout is an important measure of the health of a democracy. That’s part of why the metric is included in the Studer Community Institute’s Pensacola Metro Dashboard. The Dashboard is a set of 16 metrics, designed with the Haas Center at UWF, to gauge the economic, educational and social well-being of the community.

In the 2012 general election, the last presidential election cycle, voter turnout in Escambia County was 75.5% according to data from the Florida Division of Elections.

Data collection will consist of two parts, post-election phone surveys and early voting and election day intercept surveys. The analysis will continue through the end of the 2016 with the final findings released in 2017.

Participants will be asked questions such as, “How confident are you that your vote counted as intended, and how confident are you that all of the ballots in the county are counted as the voter(s) intended?”

“We are looking to see what voting method voters chose and why, where they get their election information, and how knowledgeable they feel the election workers are at the polling location or early-voting site,” Stafford said.

The project is funded jointly by the supervisor of elections and a grant from the UWF Center for Research and Economic Opportunity’s Northwest Florida Asset Valuation and Marketing Support Program.