KNOXVILLE — Researchers from the Department of Political Science and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, surveyed voters and found that most were very pleased with the way last fall’s presidential election was administered in Knox County.
In cooperation with the Knox County Administrator of Elections, UT researchers surveyed 1,574 voters, 57 percent of whom voted early and 43 percent of whom voted on Election Day. Questionnaires were distributed by poll workers at all of the early voting centers during each day of operation and at all county precincts on Election Day.
Ninety-eight percent of respondents rated their experience at the polls as “good” or “excellent.” Those who voted early were more likely to say “excellent” — 78 percent as compared with 73 percent of voters who voted on Election Day.
Voters gave high marks to poll workers, with 86 percent saying their performance was “excellent.” That perception did not vary significantly between early voters and those who voted on Election Day.
Eighty percent of the voters surveyed rated the convenience of their polling place as being “excellent,” with early voters being slightly more likely to give the highest rating.
Thirty-six percent of early voters reported having to wait less than a minute before voting; 22 percent of Election Day voters waited less than a minute. Only 9 percent of early voters reported having to wait more than 15 minutes to vote, whereas one in five who voted on Election Day had to wait more than 15 minutes. Two percent of those who voted on Election Day had to wait more than an hour; none of the survey respondents who voted early reported waiting that long.
There was a significant difference between early voters and Election Day voters as to the time of day they cast their ballots. Early voters tended to vote at mid-day, while those who voted on Election Day were spread out through the day.
Fifty-nine percent of voters surveyed said they would be in favor of extending early voting at convenience centers through Election Day and doing away with precinct-based voting. Only 19 percent opposed that idea; 22 percent were not sure. Among early voters, support for “convenience voting” was significantly higher, with 70 percent favoring the new approach and only 10 percent opposing the abolition of precinct-based voting.
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