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Release: Oct. 30, 2000

UI students to conduct exit poll on local ballot issues, government corruption

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- A group of University of Iowa political science students will fan out across Iowa City and Coralville on election day to conduct an exit poll measuring voters' support of local ballot issues and perceptions of government corruption.

Students in Assistant Professor David Redlawsk's Municipal Government and Politics course will work in shifts at 13 Iowa City and Coralville polling places asking every fourth voter leaving the polls to fill out a brief questionnaire and place it anonymously in a cardboard ballot box. Redlawsk estimates the poll will take voters no more than 10 minutes to complete.

"This is a great opportunity for students to get out into the community and perform a valuable service, and at the same time learn about local politics firsthand," he said. "We hope voters will be willing to take a few minutes to participate in this project."

The local poll is part of a nine-city collaborative research project examining how citizens define political corruption, the factors that influence views on political corruption, and the consequences of views of corruption for vote choice and attitudes toward government and politics.

Voters in all nine cities will be asked the same questions about government corruption. In addition, researchers in each city are adding questions related to local issues. Iowa City voters will be asked whether they voted in favor of building a new jail, expanding the public library, and removing the First Avenue extension from the city budget. They will also be asked what factor most influenced their vote on the library expansion. Coralville voters will be asked whether they voted in favor of building a new jail.

Using the demographic information collected as part of the poll, Redlawsk expects to have some interesting data on the types of voters who supported and rejected each of the ballot issues.

Redlawsk said the data gathered on opinions on political corruption will vary widely because some cities involved in the project have long histories of government corruption, while others, like Iowa City, have little or none. Redlawsk is collaborating with researchers from Florida International University (Miami), Purdue University (Lafayette, Ind.), Hunter College (New York), University of Wisconsin-Parkside (Kenosha and Racine, Wis.), Tulane University (New Orleans), Roger Williams University (Providence, R.I.), California State University-Northridge (Los Angeles), and University of North Florida (Jacksonville).

(EDITORS: Redlawsk expects to be able to share detailed findings on demographic correlates of voter support for local ballot issues at a Nov. 8 press conference at 3 p.m. in the Old Public Library. Early returns from this exit poll may be available after 3 p.m. Nov. 7. Contact Redlawsk at 319/335-2352 for details.)