In a digital landscape where bots and fraud can threaten accurate survey results, we are sometimes concerned that people will respond more than once (stuff the ballot box) or that non-residents will respond in rates that skew the results. Polco’s registration and verification process was developed to combat these issues.
When respondents answer their first questions on Polco, they are asked to set up an account with their zip code and email (registration). Respondents can also optionally provide their full name at the same time. When available, the name and zip code are used to attempt to verify that person using voter registration records (verification), giving Polco administrators additional demographic information such as gender, age range, and voting district. This further helps ensure that participants are residents of the jurisdiction (beyond providing a zip code), and that they don’t vote more than once per poll (already partly mitigated by providing an email address). It also appends demographic information from the voter file to the resident’s registration information - making it possible to have crosstabulations of your results by demographics on your Polco profile.
It is important that respondents are aware of this registration requirement and the benefits that come with it. A best practice for a longer survey is to include language for residents about why we have registration, how we ensure privacy, and make sure the requirement is outlined before they start the survey.
Not only do registration and verification help safeguard data and ensure high confidence in your survey results, but they also help you build a panel of respondents that can be easily notified when you post new surveys. This makes outreach efforts easier as you won’t have to start from scratch when promoting each new research project. You can also more quickly get input from your community about hot topics when they come up. Plus, registered users don’t have to repeatedly enter their information to take a survey, streamlining the process for all.