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The Effect of Voting Technology on Voter Turnout: Do Computers Scare the Elderly?

  • Gary Roseman
  • E. Stephenson

    ()

In the aftermath of the Florida debacle in the 2000 Presidential election, there has been an emphasis on replacing voting equipment perceived as inferior (e.g., punch card ballots) with more technologically advanced voting methods. It is possible, however, that not all voters will be comfortable with high-tech voting devices. Elderly voters, for example, might be familiar with the old voting machines but apprehensive about computerized voting. If this is the case, the fear of new voting technology might cause the turnout of elderly voters to decrease. We test for this effect by analyzing the change in voter turnout across Georgia counties in the two most recent gubernatorial elections, as it relates to the share of the counties’ populations that is over the age of 65 years. Consistent with the hypothesis that computers scare the elderly, we find a significantly negative relationship between the change in voter turnout and the elderly share of the population. An additional 1% of the population that is elderly is associated with a 0.3–0.4% decrease in turnout. The hypothesis that elderly voters were apprehensive about the change in voting technology is also supported by the increase in absentee balloting. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s11127-005-3993-3
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 123 (2005)
Issue (Month): 1 (April)
Pages: 39-47

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:123:y:2005:i:1:p:39-47
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  1. Ashenfelter, Orley C & Kelley, Stanley, Jr, 1975. "Determinants of Participation in Presidential Elections," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 695-733, December.
  2. Barry Nalebuff & Roni Shachar, 1997. "Follow The Leader: Theory And Evidence On Political Participation," Yale School of Management Working Papers ysm57, Yale School of Management.
  3. Filer, J.E. & Kenny, L.W. & Morton, R.B., 1989. "Voting Laws, Educational Policies And Minority Turnout," Papers 89-7, Florida - College of Business Administration.
  4. Knack, Steve, 1994. " Does Rain Help the Republicans? Theory and Evidence on Turnout and the Vote," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 79(1-2), pages 187-209, April.
  5. Matsusaka, John G, 1993. " Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 313-34, August.
  6. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
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