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Utah college students out in force today for Utah Colleges Exit Poll

About 600 college students from six universities throughout Utah will work long hours today, Election Day, to conduct the Utah Colleges Exit Poll, the longest running student-run exit poll in the country.

The results of the poll, which has proven very accurate over its 26-year history, will be available shortly after the closing of the polls tonight. KBYU will broadcast the results live as a part of its election programming. Press releases and survey questionnaires will be made available at and to participating news outlets.  Custom analysis is available upon request.

In addition to asking Utah voters about their vote choices for governor, this year’s questionnaires include items focused on immigration, media usage, Tea Party involvement, state tobacco taxes, and other current issues.

“The opportunity to get outside the classroom and experience research firsthand can literally be life altering for some students,” said Quin Monson, co-director of the exit poll and an assistant professor of political science at BYU.

Since early September about three dozen students in the Political Science and Statistics departments at BYU have been organizing this year’s exit poll.  The work includes drawing a random sample, designing the survey questionnaires, training students as Election Day interviewers, and programming data analysis.

Students began work as early as 6 a.m. and will continue until well after the polls close. Students conducting the on-site polling brave whatever November weather awaits them to approach randomly selected voters after they finish voting to ask them to participate in the confidential survey.  

Other students are roving designated geographic areas in “crisis teams” — visiting the interviewers to ensure all is well, provide encouragement, and handle contingencies.  The remaining students are headquartered at BYU to direct the efforts of the interviewers and crisis teams.

In addition to students from BYU, other participants in the exit poll hail from Utah Valley University, Westminster College, Weber State University, Utah State University, and Southern Utah University.  

“This is a massive project that would be impossible without help from our friends in political science, statistics, and communications all across the state,” said Kelly Patterson, professor of political science at BYU and co-director of the exit poll.

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