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<h2 class="text-info">#VT Legislative Tech Use, 2013</h2>
<p>A survey of communications technology adoption in the Vermont legislature</p>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading">Why?</h2>-->
<p class="lead">In May, the <a href="http://wboykinm.github.io/vttwg/" target="_blank">Vermont Technology Working Group</a> surveyed members of the Vermont legislature on their email and social media usage. We had three goals for this project:</p>
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<div class="span4 alert alert-info"><h4>1.</h4><p class="text-center">To shed light on the rate of technological adoption of different platforms by elected officials</p></div>
<div class="span4 alert alert-info"><h4>2.</h4><p class="text-center">To understand which platforms were being used to for different purposes, such as communicating with constituents or campaigning for public office</p></div>
<div class="span4 alert alert-info"><h4>3.</h4><p class="text-center">To see if there are geographical disparities in email and social media usage across Vermont.</p></div>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading">Methods: <span class="muted">Analog to digital</span></h2>
<p class="lead">We created a survey with questions about email and social media usage. We then printed up a postcard with a link to the online survey as well as a QR code that would take users directly to it. A hard copy was placed in each legislator's mailbox at the capital, then 3 supportive house members and a Senator assisted us with outreach to colleagues on the floor. We collected survey responses for three weeks.</p>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading">Who responded?</h2>
<p class="lead">42 out of 180 legislators (150 in the house, 30 in the senate) completed the survey, for a response rate of 23%. The rate varied geographically from no responses in Grand Isle to half the Caledonia delegation.</p><a href="http://a.tiles.mapbox.com/v3/landplanner.map-cbd2kp8k,landplanner.vtpoltech_counties,landplanner.vtmask2.html#8/43.888028/-71.6778415" target="_blank" class="btn btn-info btn-mini map-link">View Full Map</a>
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<h1><span class="muted">A Sampling of the Results . . .</span></h1>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading"><span class="text-info">98% </span>of respondents use email in their capacity as elected officials</h2>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading"><span class="text-info">69% </span>of respondents use social media in their capacity as elected officials</h2>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading"><span class="text-info">36% </span>of respondents indicated that Facebook and email are the most useful resources for engaging with the public on the issues they care about, followed by Front Porch Forum <span class="text-info">(14%)</span></h2>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading text-info">"I don't have the time."</h2>
<h2 class="muted">- Cited most frequently as the reason for not using social media</h2>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading"><span class="muted">Is there a digital divide? </span>Maybe. <span class="text-info">73% </span>of the "Urban Legislators" of Chittenden County use social media in their work, compared with <span class="text-info">60% </span> of those in the rest of the state.</h2>
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<h2 class="featurette-heading"><span class="muted">So what does this mean? </span>What's next?</h2>
<p>To the best of our knowledge, no survey similar to this one has been carried out in Vermont. And so while the overall response rate was lower than we expected it to be, the data do provide a baseline for evaluating technology use by elected officials in Vermont. <span class="text-info">We now know that well over half of legislators use email or social media in their work.</span></p>
<p>Over half the population in Vermont lives in rural areas, many of which have low access to broadband, and so it stands to reason that social media adoption might be lower in these areas. However, the number of respondents doesn’t allow us to extrapolate with any sort of certainty what social media usage is in rural areas throughout the state. Also, because we intended this survey to be very short, we did not ask a number of questions that could have deepened our understanding of the geographic and demographic differences among elected officials in their technology use. A more complete survey of elected officials in the future would take into account <span class="text-info">broadband access, age, gender, race/ethnicity and town.</span></p>
<p>In addition, we’d like to know how these numbers compare to the overall number of Vermonters using social media on a regular basis, but such a survey is beyond our current capacity. It’s our hope that a more complete survey with elected officials and Vermont residents could shed light on broader technology and social media adoption trends that would allow us to compare state-level data with national-level data.</p>
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<li><h2><span class="muted">In the meantime, </span></h2></li>
<li><a href="https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1teOstpbEixLjjXhjo2EnWA6Tdd8uqj6kIXA7NQc-1T0/viewanalytics" target="_blank" class="btn btn-info btn-large">See the Full Results</a></li>
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<li><h2><span class="muted">Got questions or ideas for follow up?</span></h2></li>
<li><a href="mailto:amanda@thirdspaceconsulting.net" class="btn btn-primary btn-large">Get in touch</a></li>
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<p>by <a href="http://wboykinm.github.io/vttwg" target="_blank">the Vermont Technology Working Group, </a>2013</p>
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