Wednesday, March 09, 2005
New Survey Research Paper
In this paper we report data collected through a survey of 1,553 recent participants in regulatory rulemaking public comment processes. Our analysis focuses on the differences between those who used newly available electronic tools and those who mailed or faxed letters on paper and also between those who submitted original letters and those who submitted a version of a mass-mailed form letter. We first discuss current research and theory developing around the issue of electronic rulemaking and online policy deliberation. Next we provide background on the particular rulemakings from which our sample of survey respondents was drawn. After describing the survey methodology, we focus on three types of findings: 1) the absence of a significant difference in discursive practices between electronic and paper commenters, 2) the presence of unexpectedly high levels of discursive engagement across all survey respondents, and 3) the significant differences between respondents who submitted original comments and those who submitted form letters. Finally, we conclude with discussion of the implications of our findings and suggestions for further research.