IDEAS home Printed from
MyIDEAS: Log in (now much improved!) to save this article

Why chads? Determinants of voting equipment use in the United States

Listed author(s):
  • Phillip Garner
  • Enrico Spolaore


This paper provides an empirical study of the determinants of voting equipment choice in the United States. We document that, in contrast to widespread belief, voting machines of older types, such as lever and punchcard systems, are not used in counties with lower income – and newer machines, such as optical scanners and electronic machines, are not used in – richer counties. We provide an economic explanation for this and other regularities of voting equipment usage in the United States. In our economic framework (a) the adoption of a new technology is more likely in richer and larger counties, but (b) the adoption of a new technology is less likely the more advanced is the technology already adopted in the county. The adoption of more advanced optical and electronic machines in the 1980s and 1990s was less likely in richer and larger counties that had already mechanized and computerized in previous decades than in poorer and smaller – and hence not yet computerized counties. Estimates of historical determinants of voting equipment choice support our hypothesis. In particular, the probability of using punchcard machines in the 1990s is positively related to a county’s income in the 1960s, when punchcard machines were first introduced. When the effect of past income is controlled for, the effect of more recent levels of income on the probability of using punchcard machines becomes negative. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2005

If you experience problems downloading a file, check if you have the proper application to view it first. In case of further problems read the IDEAS help page. Note that these files are not on the IDEAS site. Please be patient as the files may be large.

File URL:
Download Restriction: Access to full text is restricted to subscribers.

As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to look for a different version under "Related research" (further below) or search for a different version of it.

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 123 (2005)
Issue (Month): 3 (June)
Pages: 363-392

in new window

Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:123:y:2005:i:3:p:363-392
DOI: 10.1007/s11127-005-7167-0
Contact details of provider: Web page:

Order Information: Web:

References listed on IDEAS
Please report citation or reference errors to , or , if you are the registered author of the cited work, log in to your RePEc Author Service profile, click on "citations" and make appropriate adjustments.:

in new window

  1. Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 2002. "Who Uses Inferior Voting Technology?," MPRA Paper 27241, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  2. John R. Lott & Jr., 2003. "Nonvoted Ballots and Discrimination in Florida," The Journal of Legal Studies, University of Chicago Press, vol. 32(1), pages 181-220, January.
  3. Brezis, Elise S & Krugman, Paul R & Tsiddon, Daniel, 1993. "Leapfrogging in International Competition: A Theory of Cycles in National Technological Leadership," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 83(5), pages 1211-1219, December.
Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

This item is not listed on Wikipedia, on a reading list or among the top items on IDEAS.

When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:123:y:2005:i:3:p:363-392. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Sonal Shukla)

or (Rebekah McClure)

If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

If references are entirely missing, you can add them using this form.

If the full references list an item that is present in RePEc, but the system did not link to it, you can help with this form.

If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

This information is provided to you by IDEAS at the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis using RePEc data.