On American Voter Confidence

R. Michael Alvarez
Thad Hall
University of Arkansas Law Review

... Similar to the 2004 situation, during the 2006 campaign season the media ran numerous stories about possible problems voters could encounter on election day. ... We have been examining public confidence in voting technology and ballot counting -- especially electronic voting -- since the fall preceding the 2004 presidential election. ... Thus, the media popularized concerns regarding voter confidence after the 2000 election when Democrats raised concern regarding the accuracy of paper ballots -- not electronic voting technologies. ... In the closing days of the 2006 midterm election, we conducted a national survey to determine if the media and special interest depiction of differences in voting accuracy along racial and political lines correlates with differences in voter confidence. ... But ven if there is additional empirical study of American voters' confidence in the electoral process, we need to engage our theoretically oriented colleagues to help us understand the important normative question we addressed early in this essay, which comes up repeatedly in debates about voter confidence: how much confidence is sufficient to insure the legitimacy of a democratic system? On one extreme, we have assumptions like that quoted above from Senator Clinton's website: that every American voter must be confident that his or her vote is counted. ...

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