Descriptive representation in election administration: Poll workers and voter confidence

Bridgett A. King, Alicia Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Citizen confidence in elections remains a salient topic when discussing democracy and representation. While scholars have argued that voter experiences affect satisfaction, confidence, and trust more broadly, often absent from this conversation is the unique role that poll workers play in shaping citizen confidence. For racial and ethnic minorities, descriptive representation in public institutions has a positive effect on trust in administrative procedures. However, the relationship between descriptive representation and confidence in local election administration has received limited attention. Utilizing the Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE), we investigate the influence of poll workers on citizen confidence in local election operations. Specifically, we focus on the relationship between citizen interaction with racially/ethnically congruent poll workers and trust in American elections for African American and Hispanic voters. Findings indicate that for African American and Hispanic voters, in-person interaction with a poll worker of the same race/ethnicity increases general confidence in election administration.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)16-30
Number of pages15
JournalElection Law Journal: Rules, Politics, and Policy
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Mary Ann Liebert, Inc.


  • citizen confidence
  • election administration
  • poll workers
  • trust

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Law


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