Two new research papers published on the voting experience in PRQ

The current issue of Political Research Quarterly has two interesting publications on the voting experience.

The first, by Matt A. Barreto, Mara Cohen-Marks, and Nathan D. Woods, is titled “Are All Precincts Created Equal? The Prevalence of Low-Quality Precincts in Low-Income and Minority Communities.” Here is their abstract:

More than forty years after passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, a fundamental question remains unanswered: although all citizens have an equal right to the ballot, do all citizens enjoy equal access to the ballot box? That is, are voting precincts in predominantly low-income and non-white neighborhoods less visible, less stable, harder to find, and harder to navigate than voting precincts in high-income and predominantly white neighborhoods? If so, does the lower quality result in lower levels of voting, all other things equal? The authors’ analysis indicates that the quality of polling places varies across the diverse neighborhoods of Los Angeles and that the quality of polling places influences voter turnout. Low-income and minority communities tended to have “lower quality” precincts, which tended to depress voter turnout.

The second is by Thad E. Hall, J. Quin Monson, and Kelly D. Patterson, titled “The Human Dimension of Elections: How Poll Workers Shape Public Confidence in Elections.” Here is their abstract:

Voting technologies received considerable scrutiny after the 2000 election. However, the voter—poll worker interaction is also of critical importance. Poll workers exercise discretion and implement policies in ways that directly affect the voting experience. The authors examine the relationship between voters’ perceptions of the poll worker job performance and measures of voter confidence. In an ordered logit model, the perception of poll workers is a significant predictor of voter confidence even in the presence of numerous controls. The results suggest that overlooking the recruitment and training of competent poll workers can have a detrimental effect on voter confidence.