Polco Frequently Asked Questions


In what ways can communities use Polco?

Polco is used by local governments, school districts, public libraries, nonprofit organizations, and more. Communities can use Polco to gain valuable input from community members, resolve contentious issues in a civil way, and compare against national benchmarks, to name a few. 

Is Polco free?

Yes, Polco is (and always will be) free for all. The use of Polco is free for posting surveys or question sets and includes demographic breakdowns such as age, gender, and location (precinct or ward) as well as mapping so you can visualize your results. We have additional premium features for purchase, and you can view our subscription options here


Can you help draft or review questions?

Absolutely. You can find expert advice on building great questions here. If you are on a Performance or Custom plan, you have access to our team of survey science PhDs and statisticians that will help draft questions and be with you every step of the way.

Can we include background information on questions?

Yes! Individual questions each have a dedicated page on Polco that you can use to provide text, image, video, and links to inform respondents.

Are respondents able to comment on questions? How are those comments monitored?

We have designed our commenting structure so that respondents can comment anonymously or provide their name for others to see. The commenting structure allows someone to provide a single comment but not to respond to another comment (thread comments), creating a constructive, civil environment. 

Polco’s commenting functionality generally yields positive results, but in the event that a comment violates standards, we will work with you to appropriately respond to the situation. 

How do respondents learn about Polco?

Our team will work with you to develop a comprehensive launch outreach strategy to reach a broad cross section of your community. You can also access effective outreach strategies here


Will our IT team have to manage Polco on our website?

 Polco is an independent website and mobile app, so no work is required of IT staff. If you want to share questions on your site, you can embed them.

Do you monitor IP addresses at all?

We do - it's not part of the verification process, but we have the ability to investigate multiple responses per respondent by using IP addresses.


Can we use our own lists for verification?

Absolutely. Property owners, aquatic complex members, university student rosters or public utility customers are all lists you might have that we can load into our database and verify against.

How do you verify residency?

The first time a person responds, we ask for their name, zip code, and email address to create a Polco account. We do not share individual data with the municipality or any third party and information will only be used to verify their resident status in the community.

Why does it ask for respondents’ zip code and email address?  

We ask respondents to provide their zip code to confirm where they live. This lets us be sure we are hearing from each person only once and lets us know in which general area of the city respondents live. Responses remain confidential, and this information is securely stored on Polco. 

We also ask for an email address so we can contact respondents occasionally with new questions. Their email will be used only for questions from public agencies that need feedback.  Respondents’ privacy is guaranteed and Polco will never release any personal information, including email addresses, to any third party for any reason. Our privacy policy can be found here.

How do you obtain the gender, age, etc. demographics that show up in the results? Are there additional questions in the survey or is that information collected another way?

We're able to match respondents by asking for their zip code as they submit their survey and comparing that to voter registration files and other sources of online data.

Can non-residents or non-voters participate?

We allow and encourage anyone to get civically involved on Polco, and you’ll get the results from all respondents, as well as the results of the subset we were able to verify as residents through voter and other verification lists. We are generally able to match around 70% of respondents against the voter file.

What if they're not registered to vote?

They'll still be able to participate and respond, but we may just not have automated demographic breakdowns for those residents.


How do you protect resident privacy?

Polco never shares individual information or responses with customers or any third party. This privacy is key to quality engagement.

Who sees the results?

After someone responds, they are able to see the top-line results of the question. Only Polco administrators post the questions, and only administrators see the verified results and breakdowns and have the ability to filter comments. Some organizations choose to make the verified results and district breakdowns publicly available, which they can do at their discretion.

What happens if someone lies to you about their zip code? Do their responses get removed or flagged somehow?

We monitor for duplicate accounts that would indicate someone misrepresented themselves. It's very rarely an issue. While we can never prevent someone from entering false information, we can track when it happens and ensure it does not affect the reliability of results or the civility of engagement on Polco. Generally, we find that people use Polco because they truly want to be part of the decision making process and provide input to improve their community.

Are the surveys accessible to people who use screen readers (blind or low vision)? 

Yes. Polco's software performed well in accessibility evaluations conducted internally and by communities using Polco. We use several standard tools to make our site accessible and, more importantly, to continuously monitor to ensure we remain accessible as we build new features.

Can we have the surveys translated into other languages if we want?

Communities seeking to make polls and surveys available to non-English speakers can do so in several ways. First, and most commonly, you can rely on native browser translation to translate in real time. If you'd prefer to have a professional translator translate, you can create separate copies of the poll or survey in other languages. If you do not have translators on staff or available to you, please ask about our translation services provided by our research arm, National Research Center.

Other questions? Email us: help@polco.us