[00:00.50]Listen to a conversation between a student and a political science professor.
[00:06.22]Student:I’m not sure if you know but I would like to go to the student government this year.
[00:09.98]Teacher: Oh, congratulations![00:11.76] I was in student government myself as an undergraduate. [00:14.68]It taught me a lot about the political process.[00:17.55] In fact, the experience solved my problem of what to do with my life.[00:20.95] It really cemented my interest in becoming a political scientist.
[00:24.24]Student: Cool! [00:25.13]Anyway, the reason I came by is we are getting ready to conduct a straw poll on campus, you know, hold an informal ballot since the general election is just a couple of months away.[00:33.80] We want to get a field from the students' bodies political leanings, like who students are planning to vote for, which political party people identify with, that sort of thing.
[00:42.21]Teacher: I’m sure.[00:43.10] I help students run the straw poll once years ago, uh, it was a lot of work.[00:48.35] Mostly because we use paper ballots, and stayed up all night counting them.[00:51.85] But if you use computers……
[00:54.13]Student: Yeah, we are creating a website for our students to be able to vote online.[00:57.99] Em, we are looking for a faculty advisor to help, actually.[01:01.80] I was hoping you might be interested.
[01:04.31]Teacher: Oh, I’m flattered, John.[01:05.96] But my schedule is so jammed.[01:07.92] I’m teaching two seminars, your intro-course, finishing up my research.[01:12.46] But, what about Professor Clan?[01:15.70] She is new in our department.[01:17.23] Plus, she is a wiz with computers.
[01:19.05]Student: Ok, I will ask her.
[01:20.35]Teacher: So, have you decided on the topic for your term paper yet?
[01:23.91]Student: Not really.
[01:24.95]Teacher: Why not write about your straw poll? [01:27.09]Since the paper is not due till after the election, you could include your results.[01:31.32] Maybe compare them with the real election results.
[01:33.88]Student: But would that be enough?[01:35.11] I mean, just comparing numbers?
[01:37.12]Teacher: Well, no, you need to provide some analysis, too.[01:40.73] But I was thinking, there is a couple of local ballot questions this year.[01:44.73] You know, referenda, the voters can either support or not support?
[01:48.46]Student: Right. There is one on whether to ban smoking in restaurants, and another one……[01:52.25]I think is whether to spend tax dollars for a new sports arena in the city.
[01:56.64]Teacher: Ah, Ok. Here is an idea. [01:58.49]In regular elections, the vast majority of voters ignore referenda. [02:03.15]They vote for their favorite candidates but avoid ballot questions.[02:07.65] We believe it's because voters aren’t familiar with the questions or don’t understand them. [02:12.99]But actively educating people on ballot questions right before they vote can improve referendum participation rates.
[02:19.94]Student: In that case, maybe we could have our straw poll website providing information on the ballot questions, like how each proposal would affect students.
[02:27.07]Teacher: Exactly.[02:28.09] And when you write your paper, you could compare the students’ referendum voting rate to the general publics.[02:33.94] And include you own analysis of the results. [02:36.40]Plus, there is plenty of publish research on referendum voting behavior.
[02:40.26]Student: Thanks, Professor Miller.[02:41.72] I have no idea the straw poll can actually help me in my course work.