Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Who Uses Inferior Voting Technology?

Tackling the question of who uses inferior voting technology, Stephen Knack of The World Bank and Martha Kropf of the University of Missouri-Kansas City published an article in the journal PS: Political Science & Politics that contradicts

The widespread belief that African Americans, the poor, and Democratic voters were more likely to reside in counties using punch-card technology, and that a county’s wealth determines its quality of voting equipment (Knack et al, 2002, pg. 546).”


Comparing the availability of different voting technologies across 29 states and across counties within those states, Knack and Kropf found that “the conventional view that the poor live disproportionately in punch-card counties also turned out to be incorrect for the majority of states (Knack et al., 2002, pg. 545).” According to their study “counties with a higher share of African Americans were significantly less likely than other to use punch-card machines (Knack et al., 2002, pg. 546).” In Florida in particular, those counties with higher tax revenues and average incomes were more likely to use punch card systems. Knack and Kropf argue that errors are not unique to any particular form of voting technology, and that

Confusion in [Florida] was the result of poor ballot design and faulty instructions provided by Democratic Party workers, respectively; neither one of these problems is unique to punch-card systems (Knack et al, 2002, pg. 543)


Knack, Stephen and Martha Kropf. “Who Uses Inferior Voting Technology?” in PS: Political Science & Politics, Vol. 35, No. 3 (September 2002), pg. 541-548.
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