A paper by Lonna Atkeson, Yann Kerevel, Thad Hall and myself, “Who Asks for Voter Identification? Explaining Poll-Worker Discretion” is now available in Journal of Politics Early View. Here is the abstract:
As street-level bureaucrats, poll workers bear the primary responsibility for implementing voter identification requirements. Voter identification requirements are not implemented equally across groups of voters, and poll workers exercise substantial discretion in how they apply election law. In states with minimal and varying identification requirements, poll workers appear to treat especially minority voters differently, requesting more stringent voter identification. We explain why poll workers are different from other street-level bureaucrats and how traditional mechanisms of control have little impact on limiting poll-worker discretion. We test why many poll workers appear not to follow the law using a post-election survey of New Mexico poll workers. We find little evidence that race, training, or partisanship matters. Instead, poll worker attitudes toward photo-identification policies and their educational attainment influences implementation of voter-identification laws.