Are Americans Confident Their Ballots Are Counted

Working Paper No.: 
49
Date Published: 
11/30/2008
Author(s): 
Thad E. Hall
R. Michael Alvarez

Expanding the large literature which investigates the characteristics of citizen and voter trust in government we analyze the heretofore neglected topic of voter trust in the electoral process. In this paper, we present results from three national surveys in which we asked voters the confidence they have that their vote for president in the 2000 or 2004 election was recorded as intended. We examine voter responses using both descriptive and multivariate analyses to determine the overall level of voter confidence and then analyze the characteristics which influence the likelihood a voter is confident in their ballot being recorded accurately. Our findings show that a significant portion of the U.S. voting population does not possess confidence that their vote will be counted as intended and similar to the literature on trust in government we find political identification significantly impacts a voter’s level of confidence. Contrary to the bulk of findings concerning citizen trust, we find demographic variables such as race and education significantly impact the likelihood an individual is confident their vote will be recorded as intended.

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