Citizen Voices Methodology
Q) What is Citizen Voices®?
A) Citizen Voices is an initiative of Citizens Count, NH’s Live Free or Die Alliance, a nonpartisan nonprofit with a mission of making citizen engagement easier. Citizen Voices are summaries of public policy discussions that take place on Citizens Count NH’s Facebook page.
Between work, personal, and family obligations, it can be a challenge for citizens to give input on proposed legislation the traditional way: by driving to Concord and presenting testimony at committee hearings.
Citizen Voices makes it possible for people to take part in the legislative process in an easy and convenient way: through social media. We post clear ‘yes or no’ questions about pending legislation on our Facebook page. Citizens weigh in, sharing their opinions and discussing the issues. We analyze the discussion, summarizing the results in an easy-to-read report which we then bring to Concord and put in the hands of elected officials.
Q) Is this a form of lobbying?
A) Citizens Count NH is a strictly nonpartisan organization. We do not take a stance on the issues, and do not present our testimony as an argument for or against a policy position. Our role is merely to serve as a source of valuable information for elected officials, and as a resource for citizens who wish to participate in government but do not have the ability to appear at the Statehouse in person.
Q) How do you know the people responding are from New Hampshire?
A) Citizens Count NH makes every effort to ensure that only responses from New Hampshire residents are counted. We check participants’ Facebook profiles to determine their location, or message them to confirm their status as a Granite Stater, and filter our results accordingly.
Q) How do you arrive at your ‘yes or no’ percentages?
A) The full content of all responses to the Facebook discussion is exported into a spreadsheet. After filtering for New Hampshire residency status, our staff members review each response and determine whether it constitutes a “yes” response, “no” response, or broader comment on the issue. (Responses which are not in any way related to the issue or to New Hampshire public policy, such as personal conversations between citizens, are labeled “off-topic” and are not counted.)
Concurrences—or “likes” on comments—are counted as responses in the same category as the comment “liked”. For example, a “like” on a “yes” post is considered a “yes” response for quantification purposes.
Only one response from each individual citizen is counted in this manner. Comments written by the citizen are given priority. If a “yes” or “no” comment is not available for a particular individual, “likes” on the responses of others are used to establish a position.
Our “yes” or “no” percentages are calculated by comparing the total number of participants with a “yes” position against participants with a “no” position.
Q) How do you count the number of participants?
A) The total number of participants listed for each Citizen Voices report represents the number of individuals who interact in the discussion, and is therefore a sum of the following:
- Individuals giving “yes” or “no” responses
- Individuals making broader comments on the issue or related policy issues
- Individuals making off-topic comments
- Individuals who share the post or “like” the question itself
Q) How do you count the number of responses?
A) The total number of responses listed in the Citizen Voices report is the sum of all instances of engagement made with the post, and does count multiple interactions from the same individual. This number is calculated by adding:
- The total number of comments
- The total number of shares
- The total number of “likes” on either the post itself, on other user comments, or on shared versions of the post.
Q) How are Citizen Voices used?
A) In addition to presenting them as testimony at legislative committee hearings, Citizen Voices are distributed in the following ways:
- Emailed to elected officials, special interest groups, municipal leaders, and other bodies such as schools or professional organizations, as is appropriate based on the subject of the Citizen Voices report.
- Emailed to news and opinion editors of New Hampshire media outlets.
- Posted online on the CitizensCount.org website.
- Emailed to Citizen Voices subscribers who have opted to receive all of our Citizen Voices write-ups.
Q) What is Citizens Count NH?
A) Citizens Count, NH’s Live Free or Die Alliance is a nonpartisan nonprofit with a mission of making citizen engagement easier by providing objective information about issues and candidates, promoting the civil exchange of opinions in a variety of forums, and connecting citizens with their elected officials. The organization does not take a position on issues or endorse candidates or elected officials. To learn more, visit CitizensCount.org.