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Election Engagement Survey Analysis

In Fall last year, the City’s Board of Election Supervisors conducted a survey among a select group of College Park residents. Please see below the Board’s analysis of the survey results.

From the mailing of postcards to nearly 12,000 College Park households plus targeted digital marketing to the 20742 Zip code (University housing), we received only 210 responses to the election engagement survey, a return of roughly 2% or less. Of these, 89.05% said they vote in every election for which they are eligible, while 1.9% vote only in presidential elections and 1.9% never vote.

This matched up fairly closely to the number who said they voted in the 2021 City election (80% voted, if one counts the two “other” responses of “I voted,” 5.24% did not vote because they didn’t live in College Park at the time, and 2.86% did not vote because they weren’t registered, then, to vote in College Park).

The primary reason given for not voting in 2021, after “I did not live in College Park,” was uncontested elections. Of the 22 respondents who did not vote in 2021 and did not attribute that either to living elsewhere, not being registered in College Park at the time, being ill, or being ineligible to vote, nine people – 40.9% of those who, essentially, chose not to vote – attributed their action to uncontested elections.

Of the 210 respondents, an overwhelming majority believe the people who serve as Mayor and on City Council impact the quality of life in College Park (51.43% felt they have a huge impact, 40% felt they have some impact).

The fourth question on the survey asked those who did not vote in the previous City election to choose, from the list, an item that would make them most likely to vote in the next one. Of the 59 respondents who indicated they did not vote in the 2021 election, 42% said voting by mail would be most likely to get them to vote, 22% chose early voting as the key influential factor, and 17% felt more information on the candidates would be most likely to encourage more voting. No one selected free transportation to the polling place. Four of the respondents choosing “other” indicated uncontested elections as the condition requiring change.

When it came to ranking preferred voting sites, the College Park Community Center came in first place, followed fairly closely by Davis Hall and then City Hall, with Stamp Student Union far behind the others.

Our respondents were most likely to get their information on City elections through mail sent to their homes (20.95%) and direct emails from the City (20.95%). However, each of the sources listed in the survey seem to play a significant role as some voters’ most likely source of election information. Notable is that social media was indicated to be the most likely information source for only 8.1% of respondents, placing it behind all listed sources except “other.” Many of the 11 respondents choosing “other” specified they use multiple sources, and the Diamondback was specifically noted in one response.

Half of the respondents (105) offered suggestions for improving City elections in response to Question 7 of the survey. Repeated suggestions included:
• More information on candidates, with many specifically calling for candidate forums (19 people)
• Vote by mail (10 people)
• Drop boxes/increased number of drop boxes (9 people)
• Early voting (6 people)
• Making Election Day the same as for county/state/federal elections (4 people)
• Recruit more/more varied candidates (make it easier to qualify, publicize electable positions, more City and University outreach) (4 people)
• Provide free transportation (3 people)
• Ranked choice voting (2 people)
• “I Voted” sticker design competition (2 people)
• Send mail-in ballots to all registered voters (2 people)

Only one respondent suggested maintaining more than one polling place. For both Stamp Student Union and Ritchie, two respondents each said the location should not be
used as polling places. Specifically regarding UMD students, one respondent suggested candidate presentations on campus and another said to “Give out-of-state students a
reason to change their registration to MD.”

Of the 210 survey respondents, only 18 were full- or part-time students; 92.43% were not students. Most respondents were long-term residents of College Park, 70.96% having lived here more than five years (44.29% of respondents have been residents 20 years or more). Nearly 85% own their homes. English is spoken in over 99% of respondent households, Spanish in 8.1%. Respondents noted eight other languages spoken at their homes, including ASL. Seniors were largely represented; 47.62% of respondents were 55 or older. Only 5.71% were 25 or younger.

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