Town Meeting Day wouldn’t be complete without Sen. Bill Doyle’s annual citizen survey. The one-page questionnaire is a fixture near ballot boxes in municipalities across the state.
Doyle, the most senior Republican in the state Senate and a political science professor at Johnson State College, has carried on the tradition for 42 years running.
The only thing that changes is the color of the paper (this year’s offering is yellow, some years it’s green or blue) and the theme of the survey.
The 2013 version of the so-called “Doyle poll” asks questions related to economic development, including tax policy (should the state increase gas taxes and levy new assessments on sugar-sweetened beverages?), access to broadband, the future of the local food movement, the availability of natural gas and whether hemp would be “an asset to Vermont’s economy.”
Doyle also asks a few perennial favorites, including:
“Should Vermont continue its efforts to close Vermont Yankee?”
“Should drivers be prohibited from using cell phones while driving?”
“Should a three-year moratorium be placed on the construction of wind turbines on Vermont ridgelines?”
And lastly: “Do you think that Gov. Peter Shumlin is doing a good job?”
The results, which will be available in several weeks, are not scientific — there is no methodological rigor in the way in which respondents are selected. That’s because about 100 of the state’s 180 lawmakers bring the roughly 12,000 surveys to their home districts and Vermonters who fill in the blanks with an “X” for “yes,” “no” and “not sure,” are self-selecting. The survey is also released in some local weekly newspapers.
Doyle says the survey is a useful predictor of Vermonters’ attitudes about issues. The senator says all residents have the right to vote, but “they don’t always have a voice on the issues.”