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Monmouth University Polling Institute

E-Government in New Jersey

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Internet the preferred method for local government information

So where do New Jerseyans go to learn about their local government, what their taxes are, or when the trash will be picked up?  The preferred means of communication appears to be the internet, according to the Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll .

While 55% of Garden State residents say they made a personal visit to town hall in the past year, just as many - 58% - looked up information about their town on the internet.  These activities are more prevalent than phoning town hall (34%), sending an email (17%), or writing a letter (12%).

When asked what they would do first  to get information about government services, 36% would visit to their town's website, followed by 25% who would walk into town hall.  Just 1-in-10 residents say their first action would be to telephone town hall (8%) or a local official (3%).  More than 4-in-10 residents under the age of 55 say their first stop would be the town's website, compared to just 2-in-10 older residents who say the same.  On the other hand, those age 55 years and older (36%) are twice as likely as younger adults (19%) to say they would first pay a visit to town hall if they needed information or services.

Overall, two-thirds (66%) of residents say they are aware of their town's official government website and 43% have paid it a visit in the past year.  New Jerseyans who visit their town's website do so for a variety of reasons.  These include "web surfing" for general information (20%), getting information about trash or recycling pick-up (16%), finding phone numbers and contact information (10%), council or board meeting information (8%), tax information (7%), and permit or code information (7%).

Among those who have paid a visit to their town's website, 42% say they were entirely successful in their search and 32% say they found most of what they needed.  Another 25% of town website visitors say they were able to accomplish little or nothing of what they set out to do.

Overall, 38% of New Jerseyans say they would be very interested in getting more information about their municipal government and services online and another 34% would be somewhat interested.  Just over 1-in-4 (28%) would not be interested in finding out about their town online.  The types of local government information residents would like to be able to find on the internet include general town information and contact lists (13%), activity schedules (9%), official meeting information (9%), municipal budgets (8%), trash/recycling information (7%), crime statistics (7%), schools information (5%), and information about other services (5%).

"New Jerseyans are turning to the internet to check on their local government.  They currently report being able to find most of what they need there.  But as demand for online information increases, municipalities will be pressed to create websites that have more content and are easier to navigate," said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

The poll also found that a small but significant number of New Jerseyans are using the internet to interact with government at the state and national levels as well.  Specifically, 30% report having renewed their driver's license or vehicle registration online in the past year.  Just under half (45%) have used the internet to find out about specific government services and a similar number (45%) have searched for public policy or issue information online.

In general, New Jerseyans are plugged in to the worldwide web at a somewhat greater rate than the rest of the country.  Only 18% of New Jerseyans report never having used the internet, compared to 23% of American adults.

A majority (52%) of Garden State residents use email or the internet several times a day, 14% go online about once a day, and 15% go online less often.  By comparison, less than half (46%) of U.S. adults use the internet multiple times a day.  About 6-in-10 residents under the age of 55 go online several times a day compared to 37% of older New Jerseyans.

Internet Use

NJ

US *

Internet User

82%

77%

     Several times a day

52%

46%

     Once a day

14%

12%

     Less often

16%

19%

Use social networking sites

50%

47%

Use Twitter

15%

9%

   *  Source:  Pew Internet and American Life Project, December 2010

Half of the Garden State public uses social networking sites like Facebook or instant communication services like Twitter.  This includes 15% who use both social networking sites and Twitter and 35% who use social networking only.  While the statewide use of social networking sites is on a par with nationwide reports, New Jerseyans are more likely than other Americans to use Twitter - 15% to 9%.

One-in-ten (9%) New Jersey adults update their status or post a "tweet" at least once a day - including 20% of those age 18 to 34.  Another 12% of state residents post updates at least once a week, 18% do so less often, and 11% report that they read the posts of other netizens  but don't post themselves.

The Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll  was conducted by telephone with 801 New Jersey adults from February 2 to 7, 2011.  This sample has a margin of error of ±  3.5 percent.  The poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute and originally published by the New Jersey Press Media newspaper group (Asbury Park Press, Courier-Post, Courier News, Daily Journal, Daily Record, and Home News Tribune).

 

DATA TABLES

The questions referred to in this release are as follows:

(* Some columns may not add to 100% due to rounding.)

 

  1. If you needed information about your town government or local services, where would you go to find that information? What would you do first?

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

VISIT TOWN SITE
PAST YEAR
AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day or
less
Never Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

Visit town website 36% 50% 27% 10% 55% 21% 41% 44% 21% 37% 35% 36%
Visit town hall in person 25% 19% 26% 38% 19% 29% 18% 19% 36% 23% 27% 23%
Call town hall 8% 6% 8% 13% 8% 7% 5% 8% 10% 9% 7% 7%
Visit other website 5% 7% 5% 0% 6% 5% 9% 4% 4% 4% 5% 7%
Ask friends/neighbors 4% 2% 6% 9% 2% 6% 4% 3% 6% 6% 4% 3%
Community newsletter 4% 4% 3% 8% 3% 6% 2% 6% 4% 3% 3% 6%
Local media 4% 4% 4% 3% 2% 6% 4% 5% 3% 3% 5% 4%
Call town official 3% 1% 5% 2% 1% 4% 3% 2% 3% 3% 1% 4%
Library/Senior center 2% 2% 4% 2% 1% 4% 4% 2% 1% 4% 2% 2%
Send email 1% 0% 2% 0% 1% 0% 1% 0% 0% 2% 0% 1%
Call police 1% 1% 2% 1% 0% 2% 2% 1% 1% 0% 3% 1%
Other 1% 1% 2% 1% 1% 1% 0% 1% 2% 0% 1% 2%
(VOL) Don’t know 5% 3% 5% 12% 0% 9% 4% 5% 7% 5% 6% 5%
Unwtd N

801

444 225 132 389 412 125 351 310 152 314

316

 

  1. Have you done any of the following in the past year? [ITEMS WERE ROTATED]
Percent saying “yes”

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

VISIT TOWN SITE PAST YEAR AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day or
less
Never Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

A.  Called your town hall 34% 37% 31% 30% 47% 24% 18% 38% 42% 26% 40% 34%
B.  Visited your town hall
in person
55% 60% 52% 47% 70% 44% 40% 57% 64% 47% 59% 56%
C.  Sent an e-mail to your
town or a town official
17% 26% 11% 1% 33% 4% 17% 21% 12% 11% 19% 19%
D.  Written a letter to your
town or a town official
12% 16% 11% 2% 23% 4% 12% 12% 12% 14% 13% 10%
E.  Attended a council or
public board meeting
25% 28% 24% 17% 38% 14% 15% 26% 30% 17% 29% 25%
F.  Looked up information
about your town on the
internet
58% 77% 52% 15% 90% 34% 66% 64% 43% 55% 62% 58%
 
Unwtd N

801

444 225 132 389 412 125 351 310 152 314 316

 

  1. Does your town have an official government website or not, or don’t you know whether it does? Have you ever visited your town’s official government website?  [If YES:  Was this in the past year, past five years, or longer ago?]

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

 Once a
day or less
18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

Visited past year 43% 60% 36% 36% 51% 38% 38% 46% 45%
Visited past five years 6% 8% 7% 6% 7% 5% 5% 8% 5%
Visited longer ago 1% 1% 2% 1% 1% 0% 1% 1% 0%
Never  visited 16% 9% 18% 5% 14% 27% 13% 15% 19%
Town does not have website 2% 3% 1% 3% 1% 3% 3% 1% 2%
Do not know if town has website 32% 19% 36% 48% 25% 27% 41% 28% 29%
Unwtd N

801

444 225 125 351 310 152 314

316

 

[Question 4 was asked only of those who have visited their town’s website, n=452, moe= ±4.6%]

  1. When you visited your town’s website, what were you trying to do or what were you looking for? [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted]
General info\curiosity 20%
Phone\contact info 10%
Trash\recycling schedule 10%
Recycling info\rules 6%
Snow\emergency issues 3%
Services-general\other 4%
Activity schedules 5%
Crime rates\info 2%
School information 6%
Permits\ordinance information 7%
Fees\licenses 1%
Taxes & utilities, payment\info 2%
Tax info\rates 5%
Meeting schedules 6%
Meeting records 2%
Other 7%
No answer 11%
   

 

[Question 5 was asked only of those who have visited their town’s website, n=452, moe= ±4.6%]

  1. How much of what you were trying to do on the website were you able to do – everything you were trying to do, most of it, only some of it, or none of it?

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

VISIT TOWN SITE
PAST YEAR
AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day or less
Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

Everything 42% 45% 32% 45% 25% 36% 42% 49% 26% 49% 44%
Most of it 32% 33% 30% 31% 37% 36% 33% 22% 32% 30% 32%
Only some of it 18% 15% 25% 16% 24% 19% 17% 17% 31% 12% 16%
None of it 7% 5% 11% 7% 9% 6% 6% 10% 10% 7% 4%
(VOL) Don’t know 2% 2% 2% 2% 5% 2% 1% 2% 0% 2% 3%
Unwtd N

452

327 116 389 63 65 228 148 74 198

170

 

  1. In general, how interested would you be in getting information or services from your town on a website – very, somewhat, not too, or not at all interested?

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

VISIT TOWN SITE
PAST YEAR
AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day or less
Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable town

Expanding
suburb

Very interested 38% 54% 28% 61% 21% 33% 46% 33% 31% 44% 37%
Somewhat interested 34% 32% 44% 28% 38% 41% 34% 25% 41% 32% 30%
Not too interested 8% 4% 12% 3% 11% 8% 6% 10% 6% 7% 8%
Not at all interested 20% 10% 16% 8% 29% 18% 13% 31% 21% 17% 23%
(VOL) Don’t know 1% 0% 0% 0% 1% 0% 1% 1% 1% 0% 1%
Unwtd N

801

444 225 389 412 125 351 310 152 314

316

 

[Question 7 was asked only of those who are interested in online information about their town, moe= ±3.8%]

  1. What information or services would you like to see on your town's website? [Note: Results add to more than 100% because multiple responses were accepted]

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

VISIT TOWN SITE
PAST YEAR
AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day or less
Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

General information 10% 9% 12% 11% 10% 15% 9% 8% 9% 12% 9%
Phone\contact info 3% 4% 2% 5% 2% 3% 4% 2% 2% 3% 6%
Trash\recycling schedule 4% 5% 3% 5% 3% 3% 4% 6% 2% 5% 5%
Recycling info\rules 3% 2% 3% 3% 2% 3% 1% 5% 1% 4% 1%
Snow\emergency issues 3% 4% 2% 4% 2% 4% 2% 2% 3% 2% 3%
Services-general\other 5% 6% 3% 5% 5% 6% 5% 4% 3% 6% 6%
Activity schedules 9% 10% 9% 9% 9% 10% 7% 10% 3% 11% 10%
Jobs\employment info 3% 2% 5% 1% 5% 3% 4% 1% 7% 3% 0%
Crime rates\info 7% 4% 13% 5% 9% 10% 7% 4% 16% 5% 3%
School information 5% 6% 3% 7% 3% 7% 5% 3% 10% 4% 2%
Permits\ordinance information 2% 3% 1% 4% 1% 1% 4% 2% 0% 4% 3%
Taxes & utilities, payment\info 1% 2% 0% 2% 0% 2% 1% 0% 1% 2% 0%
Tax info\rates 4% 3% 5% 3% 4% 4% 3% 4% 6% 4% 2%
Meeting schedules 4% 4% 5% 4% 3% 3% 4% 3% 2% 5% 4%
Meeting records 5% 7% 3% 7% 4% 2% 7% 7% 3% 8% 5%
Budget info 8% 8% 8% 7% 8% 5% 10% 8% 5% 8% 9%
Other 5% 6% 4% 4% 6% 6% 3% 7% 7% 4% 5%
No answer 33% 30% 33% 31% 35% 29% 32% 36% 32% 29% 38%
Unwtd N

656

411 191 366 290 107 311 224 123 268

248

 

  1. In the past 12 months, have you [READ ITEM]?
Percent saying “yes”

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

VISIT TOWN SITE
PAST YEAR
AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day or less
Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

A.  Renewed a driver’s license
or auto registration online
30% 46% 21% 45% 19% 30% 37% 22% 20% 34% 33%
B.  Looked for information about
a public policy or issue of
interest to you online
45% 64% 38% 71% 25% 43% 50% 39% 35% 49% 48%
C.  Looked up what services a
government agency
provides online
45% 64% 38% 68% 27% 42% 54% 35% 37% 46% 49%
 
Unwtd N

801

444 225 389 412 125 351 310 152 314

316

 

  1. About how often do you use the internet or email from home or at work – several times a day, about once a day, 3 to 5 days a week, 1 to 2 days a week, every few weeks, less often or never?

TOTAL

VISIT TOWN
SITE
PAST YEAR

AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Yes

No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

Several times a day 52% 72% 36% 60% 57% 37% 41% 55% 56%
About once a day 14% 13% 15% 21% 12% 11% 20% 10% 13%
3 to 5 days a week 5% 6% 4% 3% 5% 6% 4% 5% 5%
1 to 2 days a week 5% 3% 6% 3% 8% 3% 5% 5% 5%
Every few  weeks 2% 0% 4% 1% 2% 4% 1% 4% 2%
Less often 3% 3% 3% 4% 2% 4% 5% 2% 2%
Do not use at home/work 1% 0% 2% 2% 1% 1% 1% 3% 0%
Never use internet 18% 2% 29% 6% 14% 33% 21% 15% 18%
Unwtd N

801

389 412 125 351 310 152 314

316

 

  1. Do you ever use a social networking site like MySpace, Facebook or LinkedIn.com? Do you ever use Twitter or another service to share updates about yourself or to see updates about others?

TOTAL

INTERNET USE

VISIT TOWN
SITE
PAST YEAR
AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day or less
Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

Use social networking and Twitter 15% 20% 15% 21% 10% 29% 15% 4% 23% 13% 13%
Use social networking only 35% 50% 32% 42% 30% 44% 35% 28% 28% 41% 34%
Use neither 32% 31% 53% 35% 30% 21% 37% 35% 28% 31% 35%
Never use internet 18% 0% 0% 2% 29% 6% 14% 33% 21% 15% 18%
Unwtd N 801 444 225 389 412 125 351 310 152 314 316

 

  1. How often, if ever, do you post updates about yourself on a social networking site like, MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter – several times a day, about once a day, 3 to 5 days a week, 1 to 2 days a week, every few weeks, less often, or never?

TOTAL

INTERNET    USE

VISIT TOWN
SITE
PAST YEAR
AGE

COMMUNITY TYPE

Frequent

Once a
day
or less
Yes No 18-34 35-54 55+ Urban Stable
town

Expanding
suburb

Several times a day 4% 5% 2% 4% 3% 9% 1% 1% 4% 3% 3%
About once a day 5% 7% 5% 7% 4% 11% 4% 2% 9% 4% 4%
3 to 5 days a week 4% 6% 3% 4% 4% 4% 7% 0% 4% 5% 4%
1 to 2 days a week 8% 12% 6% 8% 8% 13% 7% 5% 7% 8% 9%
Every few weeks 8% 11% 8% 12% 5% 11% 9% 5% 10% 9% 6%
Less often 10% 15% 8% 17% 5% 13% 11% 8% 9% 12% 10%
Never 11% 13% 14% 10% 12% 10% 11% 12% 8% 12% 12%
Do not use social networking 32% 31% 53% 35% 30% 21% 37% 35% 28% 31% 35%
Never use internet 18% 0% 0% 2% 29% 6% 14% 33% 21% 15% 18%
Unwtd N

801

444 225 389 412 125 351 310 152 314

316

 

The Monmouth University/NJ Press Media Poll was conducted by the Monmouth University Polling Institute on February 2-7, 2011 with a statewide random sample of 801 adult residents.  Sampling and live telephone interviewing services were provided by Braun Research, Inc.  For results based on the total sample, one can say with 95% confidence that the error attributable to sampling has a maximum margin of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.  Sampling error increases as the sample size decreases, so statements based on various population subgroups, such as separate figures reported by gender or party identification, are subject to more error than are statements based on the total sample.  In addition to sampling error, one should bear in mind that question wording and practical difficulties in conducting surveys can introduce error or bias into the findings of opinion polls.

POLL DEMOGRAPHICS (weighted)

35% Dem 49% Male 28% 18-34

65% White

22% Rep 51% Female 40% 35-54

12% Black

43% Ind   32% 55+

15% Hispanic

     

  8% Asian/Other

 

It is the Monmouth University Polling Institute’s policy to conduct surveys of all adult New Jersey residents, including voters and non-voters, on issues that affect the state.  Specific voter surveys are conducted when appropriate during election cycles.

 

Click on pdf file link below for full methodology and results by key demographic groups.

Download this Poll Report with all tables

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