Waiting in the Queue: QSS Affiliates Publish Research on How the length of Lines at the Polls Discourage Voters

Former QSS Postdoc David Cottrell (now an Assistant Professor in Political Science at the University of Georgia) and QSS faculty Michael Herron recently published a new article in the journal State Politics and Policy Quarterly titled "Voting Lines, Equal Treatment, and Early Voting Check-In Times in Florida. In the article, they find evidence that excessive wait times at the polls in 2012 were associated with lower turnout at the polls four years later, which may have implications for inequalities in voter turnout by race and income. See the abstract below.

Lines at the polls raise the cost of voting and can precipitate unequal treatment of voters. Research on voting lines is nonetheless hampered by a fundamental measurement problem: little is known about the distribution of time voters spend in line prior to casting ballots. We argue that early, in-person voter check-in times allow us identify individuals who waited in line to vote. Drawing on election administrative records from two General Elections in Florida—1,031,179 check-ins from 2012 and 1,846,845 from 2016—we find that minority voters incurred disproportionately long wait times in 2012 and that in-person voters who waited excessively in 2012 had a slightly lower probability—approximately one percent—of turning out to vote in 2016, ceteris paribus. These individuals also had slightly lower turnout probabilities in the 2014 Midterm Election, ceteris paribus. Our results draw attention to the ongoing importance of the administrative features of elections that influence the cost of voting and ultimately the extent to which voters are treated equally. Read more here.