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 survey data held on a separate server. 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 and Townsville, controlled by Australian entities, and deploying the highest security protocols. Once registration is closed, the online database of participant information will be deleted and only offline copies will be stored for an extra layer of protection.
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 so individual respondents cannot be identified.
Q. Will the dataset be sold or used like Cambridge Analytica used Facebook data?
A. No, the dataset will never be sold.
Additionally, we are not collecting any data off Facebook. Any comment or message that you send us on Facebook stays on Facebook.
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. How do I participate in the Voter Choice Project?
A. The last date to register was April 10, 2019. Registration is now closed.
Q. Can I complete the surveys on a mobile phone or tablet?
A. Yes you can. Each survey 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. How much time will participation in the Voter Choice Project take?
A. The catch-up questionnaire for new participants gets a little longer each month – as we are very near the end of the study it takes about 45 minutes to complete at the moment. There are 5 surveys between the budget and election day which will take between 10 and 20 minutes each, and one final survey after the election which will take about 10 minutes. Combined, the total time it will take to participate in the Voter Choice Project for those who started with us in June or July is about five hours; if you’re just signing up now it will be about two and a half hours.
Note, there are many open text boxes in the surveys 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 surveys 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 surveys, 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 survey 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 email@example.com.
Q. What if I miss one of the surveys?
A. If you miss a survey, 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 survey and find that your link doesn’t work, email firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get it sorted as soon as we can. If you are on Facebook or 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 survey later?
A. Yes, if you are using the link in your email. 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 survey. It is better to try and do it in one go if you can but life happens! Email email@example.com if you have any trouble getting back in to your survey.
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. We try and publish highlights of the results reasonably quickly on the blog. 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.
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, such as the Joint Standing Committee on Electoral Matters (JSCEM) which holds hearings into the events of each federal election.
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 academic databases at an appropriate time after the completion of the study. The raw data set will absolutely never be released or sold in order to protect voters’ privacy.
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.
We are also doing some theoretical work around developing better polling models, some elements of which are tested in the surveys. Any commercial application of this work, however, will not involve participant data. No participant data will ever be sold.
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.