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