Frequently Asked Questions

Q. How do I participate in the Voter Choice Project?

A. To participate in the project, simply sign up using the participation form. You will need an email address that we can use to contact you for at least the next year or so, so it is best to use a personal one.

Q. What kind of people do you want participating in the Voter Choice Project?

A. All kinds of voters: the more varied and diverse the better for getting some really good results. If you…

  • are a loyal party supporter or actively work on party campaigns
  • vote for the same party all the time just because you do or because your parents did
  • study all your voting options each election before coming to a considered decision
  • are a typical swinging voter
  • vote informal most of the time (leave the paper blank, write or draw something)
  • don’t feel qualified or informed enough to vote
  • get anxious in trying to decide who to vote for because you’re too busy with life to properly think about it
  • consider voting a joke or waste of time
  • give your number one to the funniest name or donkey vote
  • don’t care about elections or who wins and just vote for whoever pops in to your head
  • would rather not vote ever
  • consider voting to be our most important civic duty

…then you should take part in the Voter Choice Project. If you don’t fit in to that list then you should really take part so we can learn from you about how you think about voting. The only requirement is that you are enrolled to vote.

Q. How are you protecting my privacy?

A. A great deal of effort has gone in to planning the privacy protections around this study so you can be confident your details are secure. The personal contact and identifying details are all held on one server, and the questionnaire data held separately on the Qualtrics cloud which operates with the highest privacy and data protection standards. The data is encrypted when being back up to a second network server and a third external server. All three servers under our management are in separate locations in Sydney, controlled by Australian entities, and deploying the highest security protocols.

The personal details of respondents will never be released as part of any results nor with any part of the dataset. Individual responses will be paraphrased or categorised in the results as appropriate.

Q. Will the dataset be sold or used like Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data?

A. No, the dataset will not be sold. Its purpose is academic; its use is constrained by various national and university ethical guidelines and codes.

It is difficult to comment on the Cambridge Analytica case without knowing exactly what they were doing, although certainly they obtained data they should not have had. However, the data gathered from this study will definitely never be used to assist campaigns – political or otherwise – in direct message targeting or to manipulate the respondents of the study, which seems to be the bulk of the public’s concern around that data breach.

Raphaella is a member of the International Association of Political Consultants, the European chapter of which put out a statement in condemnation of the actions of Campaign Consultants SCL/Cambridge Analytica and reaffirmed that all their members must adhere to their Code of Conduct. While this code has not yet been adopted by the international body, Raphaella does uphold these principles on the very rare occasions when she does consult.

Q. Does this study have ethics approval?

A. Yes. This study has been approved by the University of Technology Sydney Human Research Ethics Committee, Reference Number ETH17-1987.

Q. Why do you need my street address and date of birth?

A. In order to verify your enrolment on the Australian Electoral Roll or that you are otherwise eligible to vote, you need to tell us your middle name if you have one, and your street address. Additionally as there are redistributions underway in multiple states, having your address allows us to update your electorate once the changes are finalised.

When we can’t find someone on the federal roll, we check the state rolls, and most of the state systems require date of birth to look someone up. There are a a number of people that are in one system but not the other, or may be at a different address in the two systems. Your age is also required for data analysis purposes and establishing that we have a balanced sample.

Q. I don’t want to put in my address and date of birth through an online form. Can I still participate?

Of course. Email info@voterchoice.com.au with your full name and address as it is on the electoral roll, as well as your age (date of birth is better in case we need to go to the state rolls to verify you, as explained above, but age will do), and we’ll register you manually.

Silent electors should email us whether they use the form or not so we know we won’t be able to look you up.

Note: if you choose to leave out details that prevent us from verifying you are on the roll, we may ask for some other kind of verification that you are who you say you are. The minimum we require is name, age, suburb/town, postcode and electorate, and a second way to contact you other than an email address (such as a phone number or social media profile). This is to prevent people from trying to skew the results in favour of their party by signing up multiple times. You can only register once.

Q. What is the latest date to sign up for the Voter Choice Project?

A. The last date to sign up for the main Federal Study is the day the election is called. The last day to sign up for the next round is July 20.

New participants will get a catch-up survey of the most important questions they have missed from previous surveys that will take a little longer.

Q. Can multiple people in the same household participate?

A. Of course. You will need separate email addresses however, and if you have those email addresses coming into the same inbox be careful to click the link in the one sent to you. If you have any troubles just contact us by emailing info@voterchoice.com.au.

Q. Can I complete the questionnaires on a mobile phone or tablet?

A. Yes you can. Each questionnaire has been tested to ensure it can be completed on mobile devices. We have also tested it on buses and trains to make sure it is commute friendly. If you have to stop at any point, just close the browser, and then click the link in your email again and you should return to where you were up to.

However, it is generally faster to complete on a computer, particularly if you like to make lengthy comments.

Q. I don’t have regular internet access. How do I participate in the Voter Choice Project?

A. Unfortunately the Voter Choice Project is only available online. However, we encourage those who wish to participate to use their local libraries or seek the assistance of family or friends with internet access so they can take part. The invitations will be sent at very regular times so you will know when to go to complete your next questionnaire. You can also complete the questionnaires on a mobile phone or other device.

If you know someone who really wants to take part and does not have access or finds online participation difficult, we can interview them by phone by arrangement, please email info@voterchoice.com.au with the details.

Q. How much time will participation in the Voter Choice Project take?

A. All of the questionnaires in the study take around 20 minutes or less to complete. Combined, the total time it will take to participate in the Voter Choice Project is about 4 hours. If the federal election is not called until May 2019, then you may end up committing up to 5 hours due to the extra questionnaires.

Note, at multiple points through the questionnaires there are open text boxes so you can write whatever you like. If you decide to write a lengthy comment on a particular issue or event, your comments are sincerely appreciated and they will be read and analysed, but that may take a little longer.

Q. What kind of things will I be asked?

A. The questionnaires will ask you what kind of conversations you’ve had about politics, what news you’ve watched, read or shared on social media, whether you’ve had any direct contact with politicians or parties, and who you are intending to vote for. You will be asked how much you care about politics, whether you care who wins the election, and if you would vote if you didn’t have to. We’ll also ask you about your family, friends, and the people you work with, and what influence they have on the way you think about politics. There will be some general demographic and personality questions as well. In some of the questionnaires, we’ll ask some relevant questions about issues that may have come up recently.

You won’t be asked hard questions about politics or the electoral process, and you won’t be forced to answer anything you don’t want to. The only compulsory questions in the entire study are about who you are intending to vote for.

Q. What if I want to drop out of the study?

A. There is nothing to stop any participant dropping out at any point of the study. Naturally, it would be great if everyone who participates completes each questionnaire and stays with it to the end, but no one will be forced to answer any question they don’t want to. You can let us know you’d like to drop out or if you are having any issues by emailing info@voterchoice.com.au.

Q. What if I miss one of the questionnaires?

A. If you miss a questionnaire, don’t panic. Just re-join us at the next one.

Q. I can’t log in, what do I do?

A. If you get your email for the next questionnaire and find that your unique code doesn’t give you access to the system, email info@voterchoice.com.au and we’ll get it sorted as soon as we can. If you are on Twitter, you can also message us @voterchoiceau for assistance. Glitches do happen unfortunately, but we’ll do our best to minimise them and sort them out quickly.   

Q. Can I stop and come back to finish the questionnaire later?

A. Yes. Once you start your questionnaire, you can stop at anytime by simply closing the browser window, and re-enter by simply clicking the link in your email again. You have one week from the time you start to complete the questionnaire. It is better to try and do it in one go if you can but life happens! Email info@voterchoice.com.au if you have any trouble getting back in to your questionnaire.

Q. What does a ‘panel’ mean?

A. A panel is type of survey method where a group of people that are surveyed or interviewed more than once. A multi-wave panel is a type of study that reinterviews the same group of people many times to get their opinions at multiple points in time. The main reason to do a panel is to study change – in the Voter Choice Project panel studies we are studying change in vote decision.

Q. Where will the results be published?

A. As this is a PhD project the main findings will be in Raphaella’s PhD due for submission in early 2020. A report on the results will be published on this site when analysis is complete. Participants in the study will be emailed an executive summary of the results. A number of smaller papers are likely to be published, and there may be some news coverage if there are findings of general interest. If appropriate, submissions will be made to the relevant government or parliamentary committees.

Q. How can I get a copy of the data?

A. There is currently no plan to make the dataset public: the codebooks and questionnaires may be published on this site and in appropriate academic databases at an appropriate time after the completion of the study. The raw data set will absolutely never be released in order to protect voters’ privacy.

Q. Who else is working on the Voter Choice Project?

A. There are a number of technical people who have been contracted to assist with things like building the website and maintaining the servers. Raphaella is currently the only researcher working full time on the Project, but she is assisted by industry professionals and senior academics offering their advice and guidance. If any other researchers join the project on a more substantive basis their information will be added to this website.

Other academics may work with the resulting data. Some select researchers will be invited to have advance releases of data where they are working on aspects of voter behaviour that Raphaella will not be analysing, as their work will help her work, but the data they will be given will only be anonymised and coded datasets relevant to their specific focus.

If you are interested in doing research (including as part of a Masters Research or PhD) in voter behaviour or a related subject as part of the Voter Choice Project please contact Raphaella to discuss.

Q. What will the results of the study be used for?

A. The results of the study will be used in two spheres: academically, to increase knowledge of voter behaviour and hopefully encourage more Australian researchers to work in this much neglected area of study; and in the professional sphere, to inform political operatives and others who work on issue campaigns to help them improve the way they run their campaigns. It is expected media organisations will also be able to improve their coverage of elections by understanding what information voters find useful. If there are future studies the results will be re-used to better understand future elections and see how things are changing, and data may be re-analysed to look at particular phenomena or voter groups after the completion of the main project.

To be clear, this study is not testing what propaganda or ads are the most effective – it is looking at communication channels, social context, and complex patterns of influence. So the results cannot be used to manipulate, dupe or con people; they can only be used to have smarter, more strategic conversations with voters that give voters the information they want in the format, time and place that works for the benefit of voters.

Q. Are you independent/non-partisan?

The Voter Choice Project is not affiliated with any politician or political party.

Raphaella has not been a member of the Australian Democrats since 2011, and has not been actively involved in partisan politics in any way since 2014.

But wait… isn’t Raphaella Lynton Crosby’s daughter? 
No, sorry. Raphaella’s Dad’s name is John.