The Framing of the Debate Over Electronic Voting

At APSA, we presented some draft material from our upcoming book on the e-voting controversy. The paper was titled, “Policy Framing, Risk Amplification, and the Debate Over Electronic Voting.” We are planning on including this as chapter 4 of our book.

Here is the abstract of the paper:

Scholars of the policy process have long studied how language and stories shape the policy process. More recently, scholars of the sociology of risk have focused on the study of policy framing in the context of risk and the “risk society”. We employ these theoretical works to an analysis of the debate over election reform. In the aftermath of the 2000 election, there were strong claims made about the need for electronic voting. After all, the 2000 election debacle was occurred primarily on paper-based systems. However, over the last four years, opponents of electronic voting have been able to reframe the debate over electronic voting, creating a new “story” about elections to support their claims that an election can be “stolen” by DREs. Doubts about electronic voting are exacerbated by the strongly polarized political environment. America is evenly divided across “red” and “blue” states and across political institutions and many people thought that the outcome of the 2000 election was unfairly decided. Using a unique dataset examining media coverage of electronic voting, we present an analysis of the media coverage of electronic voting that shows how the critics of have instigated a dramatic shift in the way in which the media covers this issue. There has been a strong amplification through the media of the possible risks associated with electronic voting, with little consideration given to the other side of the equation. This shift has resulted in the media adopting an almost common view that electronic voting is problematic.

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