Political Science 408 UX: The 2008 Election
Exit Poll Pollster Training Information
The purpose of this project is to gather information on voters in Miami-Dade County. Your role in this
project will be as a pollster. We will assign you to a team with one or two other POL 408 students.
Each team will be assigned a polling place within Miami-Dade County to conduct interviews. At least
one person on each team will have a car so you can drive to the polling place you are assigned to.
You are required to do two 2.5 hour shifts.
Picking up Materials and Getting to the Polling Station
Go to 314-G Jenkins Building (in the Business School) when your shift is scheduled to start. At this
time we will give you the materials that you will need to conduct the interviews. Be sure to wear your
exit poll t-shirt and name badge. You might also want to bring water, sunscreen, an umbrella, and
other supplies to deal with South Florida weather. Once your team is assembled at 314-G Jenkins
Building, go to your assigned polling place and poll for 2.5 hours (including travel time).
You MUST poll at the polling place you have been assigned to. You cannot poll anywhere else.
Once you arrive at the polling place, positions yourselves about 10-20 feet from the entrance (i.e.,
don’t approach voters immediately after they exit the polling place, but be close enough so you can
see them exiting). Approach every third voter that comes out of the polling place, and ask them if they
would like to participate in the exit poll. Be courteous and professional; remember that you are
representing both yourself and UM.
How to Initiate an Interview
Approach the respondent and say:
“Hello, my name is [NAME] and I am a student at the University of Miami. We are
conducting a survey on some important issues. Would you be willing to participate? The
survey only takes about 10 minutes to complete, and your participation is voluntary and
Completing an Interview
If they agree to participate, follow these steps:
(1) Thank them for their help.
(2) Ask them if they would like to complete the questionnaire in English or Spanish.
(3) Hand them the document that explains the study.
(4) As they read the sheet, write the precinct number and your interviewer number at the top of the
questionnaire that the respondent selected.
(5) Give the respondent the survey and a pen, and step back a few feet to allow them some
privacy to complete the survey.
(6) As they are filling out the survey, approach the next third person to leave the polling place, and
follow the same procedures above (i.e., you may have more than one person filling out the
survey at any time).
(7) Once they have completed the survey, ask them to fold it in half, and place it in the brown UM
(8) Thank the respondent as they leave.
What if they are reluctant to participate?
If a respondent is reluctant or has questions, follow these steps:
(1) Tell them: “I understand. Let me reassure you that your participation is voluntary and
confidential. I have some more information here about the survey.”
(2) Encourage them to read the document that explains the study.
(3) Encourage them to participate. Say something like:“We would really appreciate your
help with this project. You will be helping me and UM if you complete the survey.”
(4) If they agree to take the survey, thank them and proceed as usual.
What if they refuse to participate?
If a respondent refuses to participate, thank them for their time and let them go. Do not be pushy or
aggressive; their participation is voluntary. After they leave, follow these steps:
(1) Take out a blank questionnaire. Use an English survey unless the person talked to you only in
Spanish. If they did address you only in Spanish, then use a Spanish survey.
(2) Write the precinct number and your interviewer number on top of the survey.
(3) Answer the following questions about the person that refused to participate: gender (question
#1) and race (question #4). Your best guesses to these questions are fine.
(4) Write “REFUSED” across the front page of the survey, and place it in the brown UM envelope.
If the respondent only fills out a portion of the questionnaire, we still want it. Follow the normal
procedure of having them place the survey in the questionnaire box.
Finishing Your Shift
After your 2.5 hours of polling are up, return to UM and drop off your supplies and completed
questionnaires at 314-G Jenkins Building.
OTHER TIPS AND PROCEDURES
Only One Per Customer
A given individual can only be a respondent once in our survey. No matter how much they may wish
to participate more than once, you must politely tell them that you cannot allow them to do so. Tell
them that we in order to learn more about Miami-Dade voters, we need to get responses from a
variety of people in the community.
“What does this question mean?”
There may be cases when the respondent is unsure how to answer, is confused by the response
scale, wants to give you an answer that is not on the answer scale, etc. In these cases, just say:
"It means whatever it means to you.”
Again, reassure the respondent that there are no right or wrong answers, and that we are just
interested in their opinions.
"I'm not sure how to answer."
Remind the respondent that there are no right or wrong answers, and that we are just interested in
What if I am questioned about what I am doing by polling officials?
You are not violating any election laws by conducting the poll. Inform the election official that you are
not campaigning; you are conducting a non-partisan academic poll for the University of Miami.
Provide them with the sheet which explains the study.
Your safety is of the utmost importance. Carry a cell phone, and be kind and courteous to the people
you interact with. In other words, use common sense. If you feel you are in danger for any reason,
either enter the polling place and ask for assistance or leave the area.
Do not make up responses or respondents. While we would like to get as many completed interviews
as possible, the success of this project depends on the completion of real interviews. We will be
monitoring your progress in the field. If you falsify data we will catch you and you will be subject to the
academic honesty policies listed in the course syllabus.
This project requires that we keep the identities of our respondents confidential. This means that you
cannot discuss the identities of the people you interact with at the polls, or their responses, with
You will all be polling during some portion of Election Day. However, one of the central purposes of
this class is to teach you the importance of voting. In other words, we don’t want your participation in
this project to interfere with your right to vote!
So, if you are registered in another state or another part of Florida, be sure to vote absentee. If you
plan to vote here in South Florida, be sure to register and either vote absentee, early, or on Election
Day when you are not polling. Based on where you live, consult these websites for more information
on how to register and vote:
Miami-Dade County: http://www.miamidade.gov/elections
Broward County: http://www.browardsoe.org
Palm Beach County: http://pbcelections.org
Here’s a tip on how to make this easy: During early voting you can vote at any of the designated early
voting polling places, no matter where you live. So, if you are registered in Miami-Dade County, just
enter the early voting polling station after you are done with your shift and vote. Be sure to have photo
ID and your registration card with you (see: http://www.miamidade.gov/elections/where_bring.asp).