• Dari Sylvester TranEmail author
Part of the Elections, Voting, Technology book series (EVT)


This chapter explores the human dimension of elections: personnel. From election administrators at state and local levels to poll workers, individuals shape the quality of elections. For example, there are vast differences across poll worker training conducted both across and within states. To what degree is poll worker training correlated with the likelihood of issuing provisional votes—votes that must be verified in order to count—in situations where voter eligibility is unclear? On Election Day, long lines and over-burdened/under-trained poll workers effectively subvert processes to maintain election integrity and affect general attitudes toward the electoral process. This chapter presents original research that sheds light on the impact of such requirements, including how ongoing litigation over voter ID can complicate the administration of elections.

Works Cited

  1. Alvarez, R. Michael, and Thad E. Hall. 2006. “Controlling Democracy: The Principal–Agent Problems in Election Administration.” Policy Studies Journal 34, no. 4: 491–510.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Atkeson, Lonna Rae, and Kyle L. Saunders. 2007. “The Effect of Election Administration on Voter Confidence: A Local Matter?” PS: Political Science & Politics 40, no. 4: 655–660.Google Scholar
  3. Bauer, Robert F., Benjamin L. Ginsberg, Brian Britton, Joe Echevarria, Trey Grayson, Larry Lomax, Michele Coleman Mayes, Ann McGeehan, Tammy Patrick, Christopher Thomas, and Nathaniel Persily. 2014. The American Voting Experience: Report and Recommendations of the Presidential Commission on Election Administration. Washington, DC: Presidential Commission on Election Administration.Google Scholar
  4. Bergman, Elizabeth, Dari Sylvester-Tran, and Philip Yates. 2018. “Voter Identification.” In Challenges of U.S. Electoral Integrity, edited by Pippa Norris, Sarah Cameron, and Thomas Wynter. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Blythe, Anne. 2016. “4th U.S. Circuit Judges Overturn North Carolina’s Voter ID Law.” Charlotte Observer, July 29. Accessed July 20, 2018.
  6. Bonner, Lynn. 2018. “Voter ID to Go on NC Ballots Over Democrats’ Protests.” The News & Observer, June 29. Accessed July 25, 2018.
  7. Brennan Center for Justice. 2016. “Election 2016: Restrictive Voting Laws by the Numbers.” September 28. Accessed July 17, 2018.
  8. Bryer, Thomas, Terri Susan Fine, Michelle Gardner, and Adrienne L. Mathews. 2011. “Training in Virtual Worlds: Engaging the Next Generation of Poll Workers.” National Social Science Proceedings 46, no. 1: 82.Google Scholar
  9. Burden, Barry C., and Jeffrey Milyo. 2015. “The Quantities and Qualities of Poll Workers.” Election Law Journal 14, no. 1: 38–46.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burden, Barry C., David T. Canon, Stephane Lavertu, Kenneth R. Mayer, and Donald P. Moynihan. 2013. “Selection Method, Partisanship, and the Administration of Elections.” American Politics Research 41, no. 6: 903–936.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Burden, Barry C., David T. Canon, Kenneth R. Mayer, Donald P. Moynihan, and Jacob R. Neiheisel. 2017. “What Happens at the Polling Place: Using Administrative Data to Look Inside Elections.” Public Administration Review 77, no. 3: 354–364.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Center for Technology and Civic Life. 2018. “Orange County, Florida Recruits Election Workers with Adopt-a-Precinct Program.” The Center for Technology and Civic Life, May 29. Accessed May 31.
  13. Claassen, Ryan L., David B. Magleby, J. Quin Monson, and Kelly D. Patterson. 2008. “‘At Your Service’ Voter Evaluations of Poll Worker Performance.” American Politics Research 36, no. 4: 612–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Csajko, Karen, and Kara Lindaman. 2011. “Practice Makes Perfect: Engaging Student-Citizens in Politics Through Theory and Practice.” Journal of Political Science Education 7, no. 1: 65–78.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Demos. 2006. “STATEMENT: Poll Worker Training, Staffing Shortages Expected to Create Problems on November 7.” Demos, October 25. Accessed June 28, 2018.
  16. de Vogue, Ariane, and Steve Almasy. 2017. “New Texas Voter ID Law Discriminates, Federal Judge Rules.”, August 23. Accessed July 2, 2018.
  17. Domonoske, Camila. 2017. “Supreme Court Declines Republican Bid to Revive North Carolina Voter ID Law.” NPR, May 15. Accessed July, 23, 2018.
  18. Dyck, Joshua J., and Nicholas R. Seabrook. 2009. “The Problem with Vote-by-Mail.” Presentation in Annual Meeting of the Midwest Political Science Association, Chicago, IL.Google Scholar
  19. Favreau, Jenifer M., and Emily Kay Hanks. 2016. “Improving Election Poll Worker Training: Reflections on Implementing New Ideas for Measurable Success.” Administrative Theory & Praxis 38, no. 1: 68–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fernandez, Manny. 2017. “Federal Judge Says Texas Voter ID Law Intentionally Discriminates.” New York Times, April 10. Accessed August 26, 2018.
  21. Gallup. 2016. “Four in Five Americans Support Voter ID Laws, Early Voting.” Gallup, August 22. Accessed July 25, 2018.
  22. Glaser, Bonnie E., Karin Mac Donald, Iris Hui, and Bruce E. Cain. 2007. “The Front Lines of Democracy: Who Staffs Polling Places and Does It Matter?” Election Administration Center Working Paper 0704, University of California, Berkeley.Google Scholar
  23. Hall, Thad E., J. Quin Monson, and Kelly D. Patterson. 2007. “Poll Workers and the Vitality of Democracy: An Early Assessment.” PS: Political Science & Politics 40, no. 4: 647–654.Google Scholar
  24. Hall, Thad E., J. Quin Monson, and Kelly D. Patterson. 2009. “The Human Dimension of Elections: How Poll Workers Shape Public Confidence in Elections.” Political Research Quarterly 62, no. 3: 507–522.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hasen, Richard L. 2005. “Beyond the Margin of Litigation: Reforming US Election Administration to Avoid Electoral Meltdown.” Washington & Lee Law Review 62: 937.Google Scholar
  26. Ho, Dale. 2017. “Supreme Court’s Decision Maintains Ruling That Discrimination Has No Place at the Polls.” ACLU, May 15. Accessed July 23, 2018.
  27. Horwitz, Sari. 2016. “Getting a Photo ID so You Can Vote Is Easy. Unless You’re Poor, Black, Latino or Elderly.” The Washington Post, May 23. Accessed November 27, 2017.
  28. Huseman, Jessica. 2017. “State’s Failures Led to Voter ID Problems in 2016.” The Texas Tribune, May 2. Accessed June 21, 2018.
  29. Jacobson, Louis. 2018. “Donald Trump Says There’s ‘Substantial Evidence of Voter Fraud.’ There Isn’t.” Politifact, January 4. Accessed July 28, 2018.
  30. Johnson, Carrie. 2013. “Justice Department Sues North Carolina Over Voter ID Law.” NPR, September 30. Accessed July 25, 2018.
  31. Kessler, Glenn. 2016. “Donald Trump’s Bogus Claim That Millions of People Voted Illegally for Hillary Clinton.” Washington Post, November 27. Accessed July 28, 2018.
  32. Kimball, David C., and Martha Kropf. 2006. “The Street‐Level Bureaucrats of Elections: Selection Methods for Local Election Officials.” Review of Policy Research 23, no. 6: 1257–1268.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kimball, David C., Brady Baybeck, Cassie Gross, and Laura Wiedlocher. 2009. “Poll Workers and Election Administration: The View from Local Election Officials.” PhD diss., University of Missouri-St. Louis. Accessed March 16, 2018.
  34. Kimball, David C., Martha Kropf, Donald Moynihan, and Carol L. Silva. 2013. “The Policy Views of Partisan Election Officials.” UC Irvine Law Review 3: 551.Google Scholar
  35. Kropf, Martha, and David C. Kimball. 2012. Helping America Vote: The Limits of Election Reform. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Malewitz, Jim, and Alexa Ura. 2017. “Principals Aren’t Registering High Schoolers to Vote. Texas Is Turning to Superintendents.” The Texas Tribune, September 15. Accessed November 17, 2017.
  37. Minnite, Lorraine C. 2010. The Myth of Voter Fraud. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Montjoy, Robert S. 2010. “The Changing Nature … and Costs … of Election Administration.” Public Administration Review 70, no. 6: 867–875.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Myrick, Susan. 2014. “The Whole Story About Voter Reforms in NC.” Civitas Institute, January 9. Accessed August 9, 2018.
  40. Newkirk II, Vann. 2017. “Texas Keeps Failing to Convince Federal Courts Its Voting Laws Aren’t Racist.” The Atlantic, April 21. Accessed June 20, 2018.
  41. North Carolina House Bill 589, 2012–2013 Session. 2013. North Carolina State. Accessed July 19, 2018.
  42. Race, Devin. 2015. “Student Leaders in Elections: A Case Study in College Poll Worker Recruitment.” Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights. Accessed August 25, 2018.
  43. Smith, Robbin. 2012. “Embedding Engagement in a Political Science Course: Community College and University Students and the Help America Vote College Poll Worker Program.” Journal for Civic Commitment 19 (November): 1–18.Google Scholar
  44. Stein, Robert M., Greg Vonnahme, Michael Byrne, and Daniel Wallach. 2008. “Voting Technology, Election Administration, and Voter Performance.” Election Law Journal 7, no. 2: 123–135.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Stewart III, Charles. 2017a. “2016 Survey of the Performance of American Elections”,, Harvard Dataverse, V1, UNF:6:/Mol52fZ59fx6OsPWIRsWw== [fileUNF].
  46. Stewart III, Charles. 2017b. “Thoughts on Voter Confidence and Election Reform.” Election Updates (blog), September 12. Accessed January 17, 2018.
  47. Stuart, Guy. 2004. “Databases, Felons, and Voting: Bias and Partisanship of the Florida Felons List in the 2000 Elections.” Political Science Quarterly 119, no. 3: 453–475.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. United States Election Assistance Commission. 2017a. “The Election Administration and Voting Survey 2016 Comprehensive Report: A Report to the 115th Congress.” Accessed December 22, 2017.
  49. United States Election Assistance Commission. 2017b. “Election Worker Successful Practices.” Accessed November 22, 2017.
  50. Ura, Alexa. 2018a. “What to Expect in Texas’ Voting Rights Court Fights in 2018.” The Texas Tribune, January 3. Accessed June 20, 2018.
  51. Ura, Alexa. 2018b. “Federal Appellate Court Upholds Embattled Texas Voter ID Law.” The Texas Tribune, April 27. Accessed June 20, 2018.
  52. Ura, Alexa. 2018c. “Texas Won Its Redistricting Fight at the Supreme Court. Now It Hopes to Use That Win to Wrap Up Its Voter ID Suit.” The Texas Tribune, June 27. Accessed July 20, 2018.
  53. Ura, Alexa. 2018d. “Plaintiffs Say Texas Voter ID Fight Is Over.” The Texas Tribune, August 9. Accessed August 9, 2018.
  54. Wan, William. 2016. “How Republicans in North Carolina Created a ‘Monster’ Voter ID Law.” Chicago Tribune, September 2. Accessed July 19, 2018.
  55. Wang, Tova. 2012. “2012 Election Lessons Learned: How Voters Stood Up Against Suppression, ID, and Intimidation.” Demos, November 15. Accessed December 13, 2017.
  56. Weiser, Wendy R. 2006. “Are HAVA’s Provisional Ballots Working?” Democracy Program, Brennan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law, 312.Google Scholar
  57. Wines, Michael. 2016. “Some Republicans Acknowledge Leveraging Voter ID Laws for Political Gain.” The New York Times, September 16. Accessed December 14, 2017.
  58. Wines, Michael. 2018. “North Carolina Republicans Are Back with a New Plan for Strict Voter Laws.” The New York Times, June 15. Accessed July 23, 2018.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of the PacificStocktonUSA

Personalised recommendations