Waiting to vote: the effect of administrative irregularities at polling locations and voter confidence

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13 Scopus citations


When citizens experience an irregularity while voting, their confidence in elections is diminished, and they are more likely to perceive the results of the election as illegitimate. Although there are many irregularities that a voter may experience, this article evaluates the consequence of extensive wait times to vote on citizen confidence in the United States. Utilizing the 2008–2016 Survey on the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) the analysis finds that wait times have a negative effect on confidence as do challenges with the voting equipment and voter registration. The effect of negative experiences extends beyond lowered confidence that a voter’s ballot is counted as intended to lower confidence that ballots at the local, state, and national level are counted as intended by voters as well. While extended wait times have a limited effect, negatively effecting the confidence in a voter’s personal ballot and ballots across the local jurisdiction, negative experiences with registration or ballots and voting equipment affect evaluations of confidence at the personal level and across the local jurisdiction, state, and nation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)230-248
Number of pages19
JournalPolicy Studies
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Mar 3 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, © 2019 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Confidence
  • democracy
  • election administration
  • integrity
  • wait time

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations


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