As election season heats up, opinion polls are on everyone’s mind.

Surveying the public’s views on any topic has always been a difficult process, plagued by labor-intensive phone banking and inaccurate samples of the population. But 3-year-old Reconnect Research thinks it has found a novel way to solve the problem: by taking advantage of human error.

Reconnect Research, a subsidiary of Westwood marketing analytics firm Dial800, has developed a polling and survey software program that redirects a small portion of the 5 billion misdialed, incomplete, or disconnected phone calls placed every year in North America to an automated touch-tone survey. This tactic results in surveys that are faster, cheaper, more accurate, and in compliance with robo-calling laws, said Scott Richards, the company’s chief executive.

“We get about 100,000 calls a day, about two calls a second,” he said. “This is the most representative sample that you can get anywhere.”

Among Reconnect’s clients is RTI International of Research Triangle Park, N.C., an outfit that conducts surveys for various government agencies. One recent survey queried Americans’ health habits, including exercise levels, drug usage, and hours of sleep.

The traditional method of outbound phone surveying often requires a team of operators making thousands of calls in order to get enough respondents. But as younger people have severed their landlines and adopted caller ID-equipped mobile phones, getting enough people to pick up the phone that accurately represent a sample of a larger population has become increasingly difficult. Conversely, internet surveys have failed to produce an accurate sampling of older people.

“It allows (researchers) to speak to people they aren’t be able to speak to, like millennials,” he said.

The survey and polling method is entirely automated, allowing users to enter in their demographic information and responses from a touch-tone phone. Because all of the calls are inbound, Reconnect avoids legal issues associated with robo-calling, said Richards, noting that Gallup Inc. settled a lawsuit for $12 million last year after being sued under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act for allegedly using auto-dialing.

As the method becomes better known, Richards said he hopes it pushes out more traditional methods of researching and polling.

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