The Quality of Vote Tallies: Causes and Consequences
62 Pages Posted: 29 Jul 2019
Date Written: February 1, 2019
The credibility of election outcomes hinges on the accuracy of vote tallies. We provide causal evidence on the drivers and the downstream consequences of variation in the quality of vote tallies. Using data for the universe of polling stations in Mexico in five national elections, we document that over 40 percent of polling-station-level tallies display inconsistencies. Our evidence strongly suggests these inconsistencies are non-partisan. Using an original survey of 80,000 poll workers together with detailed administrative data, we find that inconsistencies cause recounts and lower trust in electoral institutions. Finally, using data for more than 1.5 million poll workers we show that lower educational attainment, higher workload, and higher complexity of the tally cause more inconsistencies. We discuss policy implications of our findings.
Keywords: elections, vote counting, vote tallies, mistakes, recounts, democracy
JEL Classification: H10, H40, H80, K40
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation