Assessing Precinct Consolidation Strategies Through Simulation Optimization

Nicholas D. Bernardo, Bridgett A. King, Gretchen A. Macht

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


The Supreme Court ruling on Shelby County v. Holder, 570 U.S. 529 (2013) provided states and local jurisdictions with increased discretion when operating elections. Since this decision, voters across the United States have experienced a reduction in polling locations through precinct consolidation and polling location closures. Further, passed and pending legislation will restrict vote-by-mail use and early voting in future elections. For many, these changes will restructure the in-person voting experience as more voters will vote in-person on Election Days at fewer locations. While scholarship has demonstrated the effects of polling location consolidation on voter turnout and voter disenfranchisement, less research has investigated the effects on system performance and voter wait times. This analysis applies a simulation optimization to assess the consequences of three polling location consolidation strategies on voter wait time. We find that allocating resources in combination with the consolidation strategy directly affects voter wait times. Our results suggest that consolidating precincts and polling locations requires deliberate resource allocation planning to distribute voting equipment efficiently.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)363-380
Number of pages18
JournalElection Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2023

Bibliographical note

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  • discrete-event simulation
  • precinct consolidation
  • simulation optimization
  • voter wait times

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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