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Use this page to browse all content from the Voting Technology Project, sorted by last updated.

Why Everything That Can Go Wrong Often Does: An Analysis of Election Administration Problems

Working Paper No.: 
10
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Thad E. Hall
The Century Foundation
R. Michael Alvarez
Before the 2000 presidential election, few citizens in the United States paid much attention to election administration. But scholars have noted that election administration has been a problem for decades. Despite the attention paid to election administration in the research literature, most public policy efforts in since 2000 have been focused on purchasing new voting equipment and fixing problematic procedures, and not on resolving some of the underlying problems in the process of conducting elections in America.

The Complexity of the California Recall Election

Working Paper No.: 
9
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
D. Roderick Kiewiet
Caltech
Melanie Goodrich
The October 7, 2003 California Recall Election strained California’s direct democracy. In recent California politics there has not been a statewide election conducted on such short notice; county election officials were informed on July 24 that the election would be held on October 7. Nor has California recently seen a ballot with so many candidates running for a single statewide office. With easy ballot access requirements, Secretary of State Kevin Shelley certified 135 candidates for the official ballot on August 13.

Vertical Proximity Effects in the California Recall Election

Working Paper No.: 
8
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Sarah M. Sled
MIT
The 2003 California recall election provides a unique opportunity to assess the impact of variations in ballot design and voting methods on the voting accuracy of citizens. Analysis of the results of the California Recall election demonstrates that candidates who were vertically adjacent to the top three vote getters received “extra” votes in the recall election – a vertical proximity effect. Combined, these ‘neighbor’ candidates received approximately 4 votes per thousand votes the top candidate received.

Who Overvotes, Who Undervotes, Using Punchcards? Evidence from Los Angeles County

Working Paper No.: 
7
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
D.E. "Betsy" Sinclair
Caltech
R. Michael Alvarez
In this study we examine over- and undervotes from the November 2000 General Election in Los Angeles County. Los Angeles County is the nation's largest election jurisdiction and it used a punchcard voting system in that election. We use precincts as our unit of analysis and merge the 2000 election data with census data and voter registration data; our dataset allows us to examine all of the countywide races in 2000 (including candidate and ballot measures).

Whose Absentee Votes Are Counted?

Working Paper No.: 
6
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Thad E. Hall
The Century Foundation
R. Michael Alvarez
Absentee voting is becoming more prevalent throughout the United States. While there has been some research focused on who votes by absentee ballot, little research has considered another important question about absentee voting: Which absentee ballots are counted, and which are not? Research following the 2000 presidential election has studied the problem of uncounted ballots for precinct voters, but not for absentee voters.

Election Day Voter Registration in the United States: How One-Step Voting Can Change the Composition of the American Electorate

Working Paper No.: 
5
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez
Caltech
Stephen Ansolabehere
For most Americans, voting requires two steps. First, an eligible citizen must register in some manner with an appropriate government agency. Second, once registered, the citizen can then cast a ballot on or before election day. The historical record provides examples of voter registration processes as early as 1801 in the state of Massachusetts, followed by Columbia, South Carolina in 1819, the state of Pennsylvania in 1836, and New York City in 1840. After the Civil War, voter registration systems proliferated throughout the nation, especially in large urban areas of the county.

Ballot Design Options

Working Paper No.: 
4
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
R. Michael Alvarez
Caltech
Does ballot design “matter”? Does the design of ballots influence how voters cast their ballots, and thereby affect the outcome of an election? Anecdotal evidence indicates that ballot design may be a very important factor in American elections. Probably the most well-known ballot design question is the now infamous “butterfly” ballot design, from the 2000 Florida election.

A Modular Voting Architecture ("FROGS")

Working Paper No.: 
3
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Ronald Rivest
MIT
David Jefferson
We present a “modular voting architecture” in which “vote generation” is performed separately from “vote casting.”

Residual Votes Attributable to Technology: An Assessment of the Reliability of Existing Voting Technologies

Working Paper No.: 
2
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Voting Technology Project
American elections are conducted using a hodge-podge of different voting technologies: paper ballots, lever machines, punch cards, optically scanned ballots, and electronic machines. And the technologies we use change frequently. Over the last two decades, counties have moved away from paper ballots and lever machines and toward optically scanned ballots and electronic machines. The changes have not occurred from a concerted initiative, but from local experimentation. Some local governments have even opted to go back to the older methods of paper and levers.

19th Century Ballot Reform in California: A Study of the Huntington Library's Political Ephemera Collection

Working Paper No.: 
1
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Melanie Goodrich
Caltech
Ballot reform is an important part of the American political process. During the 1800’s, ballots changed drastically. At the beginning of the century, voters wrote the names of the candidates for whom they wished to vote on a piece of paper and put that piece of paper into the ballot box. Legislation followed that allowed voters to cast professionally printed ballots, which opened the door to political parties providing their supporters with pre-printed ballots to cast. Towards the close of the century, the Australian ballot, also known as the secret ballot, was introduced

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