Survey Indicates Escambia County Voters Pleased With Election Process
Pensacola - Despite continuing furor over the results of our recent national election, analysis by the University of West Florida’s Department of Government of a Haas Center survey on voter satisfaction in Escambia County confirms that the vast majority of the local voting public has a high degree of satisfaction with the voting process.
Pensacola – Despite continuing furor over the results of our recent national election, analysis by the University of West Florida’s Department of Government of a Haas Center survey on voter satisfaction in Escambia County confirms that the vast majority of the local voting public has a high degree of satisfaction with the voting process.
A stratified analysis by Dr. Brian D. Williams, a post-doctoral research associate in the UWF government department, found that overall satisfaction with the voting procedures was very high among early in-person voters, absentee voters as well as Election Day voters during both the primary and general elections. For instance, while more individuals who voted in-person early or on Election Day had to wait in line during the general election, this was still a minority of voters, and the wait time was usually less than five minutes.
While confidence in electoral integrity was generally quite high, those with lower confidence in election integrity tended to have a correspondingly lower level of satisfaction with the vote casting process, according to Williams’ analysis.
Williams also noted that, among the minority of survey respondents who did have concern about electoral integrity, Republicans were more likely to fear voter fraud, while Democrats were more likely to fear hacker manipulation. Finding effective ways to address such concerns about electoral integrity can increase overall satisfaction, Williams pointed out in his conclusion.
Dr. Adam Cayton, assistant professor in the government department, examined the ease of voting and the voters’ confidence that their votes were counted correctly.
“The results provide good news about wait times in Escambia County,” Cayton wrote in his analysis. “It does not appear that demographics or partisanship were associated with longer wait times. This speaks well of the equity of the voting experience in our county.”
He also found that race, gender, age and partisanship have no effect on how likely someone is to be referred to the clerk, which causes voting to take longer and may jeopardize a person’s ability to cast a ballot. However, college educated voters and those who are knowledgeable about the electoral system were less likely than others to be referred to the clerk.
Banter during and after the campaign about the threat to electoral integrity had a noticeable effect on the voters’ trust that their votes would be accurately counted, Cayton pointed out.
Respondents were asked how confident they were that votes would be accurately counted on four levels: Individual, county, state and national. Comparing confidence across these levels revealed some interesting patterns.
“Confidence in accurate vote counting at the state and national levels was uniform and lower across all ages,” the report stated. “Older voters were more confident about their vote and the county than younger voters. Only 60 percent of 18 year olds expressed such confidence while more that 80 percent of the most elderly voters did … white respondents were more confident that votes would be accurately counted in the county and nation, but were no different from non-whites in their confidence that their own votes or Floridians’ votes would be accurately counted.”
Partisanship also affected confidence in the integrity of the vote. Democrats were more confident in state, national and individual votes, “but were no-more confident that non-Democrats about the integrity of the vote in Escambia County,” according to the report.
Cayton also found the way people gleaned information about the election interesting.
“Those learning about the election from local news and from the Supervisor of Elections office were roughly 15 percentage points more likely to express confidence in the vote count than those who learned about the election from campaign organizations, friends, or social media about votes cast for Escambia County and the state of Florida,” the report stated.