More research on voting machine allocation in Franklin County, Ohio

Subsequent to my earlier essay about Benjamin Highton’s paper in PS on the impact of voting machine allocations on voter turnout in Franklin County, Ohio, in the 2004 presidential election, there was some email discussion on the electionlaw listserv about Highton’s paper and this general line of research.

Walter Mebane (Cornell University) reminded readers of the electionlaw listserv that he had done a similar analysis of data from Franklin County, but using different methodologies. Here is a snip of his email, with a link to his paper:

My analysis of precinct-level data from the 2004 election in Franklin County, Ohio, uses different statistical methods than Ben Highton used in his PS paper, but as far as the relationship between voting machines and voter turnout is concerned we reach qualitatively similar conclusions. My analysis also looks at a measure of the long lines in the county and includes measures of precinct racial composition. If one uses the November 2004 electorate as the standard, the allocation of voting machines clearly and disproportionately reduced turnout among African American voters. For the paper, see

That’s an update of the paper I originally wrote in July, 2005, in response to one of the infamous DOJ letters. I’ve updated it to take into account new data I just received from Franklin County regarding the information they used to allocate voting machines to precincts. Apparently they used a measure of the active voter electorate computed as of mid-June, 2004. While the allocation of machines discriminates heavily against African American voters if it is compared to the November electorate, if it is compared to the electorate measured as of June then precincts that have a high proportion of African Americans and precincts that have a low proportion of African Americans have on average virtually equal numbers of voters per machine.

Average Number of Voters per Voting Machine

African American November June
Low 213 178
Medium 226 172
High 242 176

Details are in the paper.

Thanks to Walter for pointing us all to his paper, as it contributes another perspective on this research question.