How to Research Faculty Party Affiliations · 29 December 2007

(Using Voter Registration Records)

1. Investigate Your University and State

Find out how your state keeps voter registration records. The best way to do this is to call your local board of elections or the state board of elections. Some states either leave out partisan registration, have closed records, or have open voter registration lists but do not reveal party registrations. Some states don't record party registration as such but do keep public records as to the primaries an individual votes in. Some states where this project is not possible are Texas, Missouri, Georgia, and New Jersey. There may be others. The project is possible, obviously, in any state for which CSPC has already done a school. You should also find out if your school has a faculty or all campus directory that includes mailing addresses. If it does, you should obtain a copy of it.

2. Select Professorial Research Subjects

Visit the websites for the following departments: Economics, English, History, Philosophy, Political Science, and Sociology. If there is an English Literature and English Language department, choose the literature department. Political Science is sometimes called Government or American Government. Sociology is sometimes paired with Anthropology. Compile lists of tenure and tenure track professors (these people should be called Associate Professors, Assistant Professors, and Professors.) You should also select one science or technology related department. Please select departments in the following order.

1. Department of Civil Engineering
2. Department of Engineering (if it is only one department.)
3. Department of Computer Science
4. Department of Physics
5. Department of Mathematics

If the school has no departments or a single department/college of science, then select a sample of at least 25 scientists or survey all of the scientists at your school.

2. Select Administrative Research Subjects

Next, you should develop a list of the administrators at the school.. You should compile a list that includes the President/Chancellor, the Provost, some assistant provosts and vice presidents, a variety of deans, and the head of admissions. This task requires some judgment on your part: administrators should be selected primarily on the basis of how likely they are to deal with students and the academic life of the school you are surveying: the heads of academic colleges, the people responsible for overseeing on campus residences, and the individuals in charge of disciplinary matters should be surveyed. Titles are not consistent but, at most schools, people with Dean in their titles are more likely to deal with student life than Vice Presidents or Assistant Provosts. At smaller colleges, it may be appropriate to include a few people who do not deal directly with students.

3. Create Spreadsheet

Using Microsoft Excel or a program capable of saving excel files. The colums should be labeled: Our format is:
Last Name - First Name - Party - Department - Address - Gender - Age
The age data point will generally be included along with voter records, if it is not, it may be left out. Occasionally, it will not be possible to tell gender from a name alone: you might try calling that professor at an odd hour to check the voice mail or just asking the department secretary.

4. Investigate the Records

Visit your local voting records facility - in almost every state but Massachusetts, it will be part of county government. It may require a little digging to find out where the facility is and what their rules for viewing are - but if there is any difficulty, call up the main line for your county and ask. Once at the facility with a printed copy of the Excel list, begin looking up the names, keeping in mind the following protocol for identifying a professor with a party. You should be sure that you have the right person and always error in favor of leaving a person out rather than recording his or her party registration wrongly. You should, however, assume that all professors are over 25 and that anybody with the proper name who lives on the college campus teaches there. If you have a name and an address, look up the name, and if the address matches, you've got an airtight identification. If not, it's a bit harder. Here's an example of how to proceed:

The person being investigated is "Andrew Jones," and there is no address available.
If your result is one "Andrew Jones," this is conclusive. Record the party.
If your result is two people named "Andrew Jones" this is not conclusive. Record as TM - too many positive hits.
If your result is "Andrew L. Jones": this is conclusive. Record the party.
If your results are "Andrew L. Jones" and "Andrew N. Jones": not conclusive. Record as TM - too many positive hits.
If your results are "Andrew Jones" and "Andrew L. Jones": still not conclusive. Record as TM - too many positive hits.

Obviously, you should use whatever knowledge you have of the professors. If you know that professor Andrew Jones looks about 40 and the only other registered voter named Andrew Jones is 90, then you can safely assume that the 41-year old Andrew Jones is the person you are looking for. Common sense should also come into play: if, for, example, you find one person who is registered to vote at a trailer park 600 miles away and another who lives in a college town neighborhood preferred by professors, you can safely assume that the professor lives among his colleagues.

5. Note party registrations:

You should note party registrations as follows.

No party/Not affiliated/Non-partisan: NP
Republican: R
Democrat: D
Libertarian: L
Green: G
Other Party/Local Political Party/Etc.: O
You will also encounter many professors for whom no voting records are available. Record them as: N

Occasionally, a party may have a different name on the state level than it doe nationally. Minnesota's Democratic Party, for example, is officially the Democratic Farmer/Laborer Party and the Washington D.C. Green Party is called the Statehood/Green Party. In some cases, you will find that party registration is not recorded but primary voting is. For this purpose, you should examine the last five primaries the person voted in. If the person voted in the same party's primary each time, then he or she should be recorded as a member of that party. If the person voted in the primary of more than one party, then the person should be recorded as NP.

6. Enter data

Once returned from the registrar's office, enter the party affiliation in the Excel file, and email the results in an attachment to: info@sfaf.org. Your contribution and hard work are greatly appreciated, and will be acknowledged.