Long Lines at Polling Stations? Observations from an Election Day Field Study
Election Law Journal, Vol. 9, No. 1, pp. 3-17 (2010)
15 Pages Posted: 15 Jun 2010 Last revised: 23 May 2014
Date Written: March 1, 2010
This pilot study represents the first systematic attempt to determine how common lines are on Election Day, at what times of day lines are most likely to form, what are the bottlenecks in the voting process, and how long it takes an average citizen to cast his or her ballot. This study highlights the importance of evaluating polling station operations as a three-step process: arrival, check-in, and casting a ballot. We collected data during the 2008 presidential primary election in California, measuring the efficiency of the operational components of 30 polling stations across three counties. We found statistically significant, and meaningful, variation in the service rates of poll workers and voting technology. Our findings should better help election officials make important decisions about the allocation of critical resources.
Keywords: Election administration, queuing theory, long lines, voting
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