Qingmei Qing, doctoral student at SAPOR Conference.

Georgia Doctoral Student Reports Findings Of Two Studies of Voter Sampling Techniques

Qingmei Qing, doctoral student in mass communications at the University of Georgia in early October told a gathering of public opinion researchers from the southeast that voter registration lists can be used to generate samples both for mail and telephone surveys that reflect the characteristics of the larger list of registered voters in communities.

At a meeting of the Southern Association for Public Opinion Research on Oct. 8 and 9 in Raleigh, N.C., Qing reported on two studies she had done that showed that available Internet tools can be used to generate a sample from voter lists that has the same characteristics as the list from which it was drawn.

And when Qing and her colleagues actually attempted to interview these individuals in one of the surveys, the final sample of interviewed voters had characteristics that matched those of the population.

In a second survey, the researchers contacted the selected voters by mail. Again, the sample of voters who returned the survey instruments matched the characteristics of the larger population of registered voters.

The team used characteristics of the voters included on the voter lists, such as gender, race and time of registration, and state records on voter turnout to compare the samples drawn and samples that completed the survey with the full list of voters.

Qing completed the research with Nicoleta Corbu, a member of the faculty in the College of Communication and Public Relations at the National School of Political Studies and Public Administration in Bucharest, Romania, in late 2008 and early 2009.

Corbu at that time was a Fulbright Scholar in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

Corbu and Qing were joined in their research by Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College.

Corbu was hosted by the Cox Center during her time at Georgia, and Qing has worked as a graduate assistant in the Cox Center during his studies at Georgia.

Approximately 80 other public opinion researchers attended the conference in Raleigh. Dr. Becker joined Qing for the presentation.

The research team drew their samples from the official voter registration lists of Oconee County, Georgia, a county of 32,000 citizens. The voter registration lists, which are public records, contain identifying characteristics of voters that can be used to counter voter fraud.

The team purchased the list from the Georgia Secretary of State and argued that this type of address based sampling is an appropriate alternative to the more common sampling in which voters are contacted after their telephone numbers have been generated randomly by computers.