COUNTING is underway for responses to a survey that canvassed voters in a Queensland electorate on marriage equality, despite a small amount of returned answers.

Conducted by Flynn federal Nationals MP Ken O’Dowd in an effort to poll his electorate on support for marriage equality – as well as other issues including euthanasia and daylight saving – out of a total 95,000 surveys sent to constituents, only about 4000 responded.

[showads ad=MREC]In a statement released on Tuesday, O’Dowd said he would have preferred to hear greater feedback from the electorate, but he was happy people took the time to complete the survey which was also available online.

“I estimate that more than 4000 have been returned, which will make this the largest survey of this type conducted in this area,” O’Dowd said.

“I took every effort to promote the survey, distributing copies to shoppers at my local supermarket, talking to the local media, and using social media to direct attention to the surveys.”

Local newspaper the Gladstone Observer initially quoted O’Dowd as saying any unreturned survey meant he would “put those people down as they don’t care one way or the other” and that it would be treated as a “no” vote against same-sex marriage.

O’Dowd has since denied this, and the newspaper subsequently issued an apology.

“Surveys that weren’t returned cannot be counted and will not be counted as either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote,” O’Dowd said.

It was also initially reported that he was around 40,000 returned surveys.

“I am a bit disappointed with the response,” O’Dowd told the Gladstone Observer.

“Maybe people didn’t want to give their details, but you think there would be more from 95,000 sent out.”

As with a similar survey on same-sex marriage by Bowman federal Coalition MP Andrew Laming, also in Queensland, there have been criticisms of the way in O’Dowd’s poll was conducted.

Comments on social media state the Flynn survey was delivered with junk mail and poorly advertised, with others expressing concern about sharing their personal details.

On whether a response rate of approximately four per cent was an accurate representation of his electorate’s view on same-sex marriage, a spokesperson for O’Dowd said 4000 replies was a “very respectable showing”.

“The most recent nation-wide survey to gauge attitudes towards same-sex marriage, undertaken by Crosby-Textor, involved phone polling 1000 randomly selected Australians,” the spokesperson told Star Observer.

“The Crosby-Textor survey shows growing support for same-sex marriage on a broad scale.

“Ken’s survey is to get a general indicator for his electorate, which is why we need to count these survey results before we can formally declare an opinion on the subject.”

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