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Do they know? Data on voter knowledge

Almost half of all citizens (46%) report that policies are most important determining their choice of President. No other issue was nearly as important: the next most popular criteria was morality and ethics, mentioned by 17% of citizens. Interestingly nobody named religion or wealth as playing a deciding role in their decision. Even age was only mentioned by 1% of citizens.

These findings were released by Twaweza in a research brief titled Do they know? Data on voter knowledge. The brief is based on data from Sauti za Wananchi, Africa’s first nationally representative high-frequency mobile phone survey. The findings are based on data collected from 1,335 respondents across Mainland Tanzania (Zanzibar is not covered in these results) between 12 and 26 June 2015.

Citizens also believe that the elections will be free and fair and that their choices and priorities will be respected. More than eight out of ten (82%) believe that their vote will count regardless of who they vote for. But almost two out of ten (18%) think that those in power will break rules to win if needed. A large majority (65%) also believe that the candidate with the best policies will win, compared to 35% who think that the candidate with the most money will win.

When it comes to the media, three out of four citizens (76%) think the media will report accurately and fairly on the elections while 24% think that the media will take sides either due to personal preference or financial incentives.

Despite this general optimism, citizens are concerned about election violence. Worryingly, more than half (54%) think there is a high risk of violence around the elections (Twaweza did not collect data on who citizens thought would initiate this violence). Citizens’ fears may be reflective of the fact that almost two out of ten  (18%) reported directly witnessing violence at the polling station during the local elections at the end of 2014 (Sauti za Wananchi, Mobile Phone Survey - Round 30 February-March 2015).

Read more: elections Sauti za Wananchi Tanzania

Authors: Risha Chande

Editors: Aidan Eyakuze Ben Taylor

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Organizations: Twaweza East Africa

Pages: 2

Type: Policy brief

Year: 2015

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