Controlling Democracy: The Principal-agent Problems In Election Administration

Author(s): 
Thad E. Hall
R. Michael Alvarez
Journal: 
Policy Studies Journal
pp: 
491-510
Status: 
Published

Election reform has become a major issue since the 2000 election, but little consideration has been given to the issues associated with managing them. In this article, we use principal agent theory to examine the problems associated with Election Day polling place voting. We note that Election Day voting manifests problems that agency theory shows are difficult to overcome, including adverse selection of and shirking by poll workers. We then examine alternate methods of voting, such as early, absentee, and Internet voting, and show how these reforms can mitigate many of the more severe principal agent problems in election management.

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