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Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data

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  • M. Keith Chen
  • Kareem Haggag
  • Devin G. Pope
  • Ryne Rohla

Abstract

Equal access to voting is a core feature of democratic government. Using data from millions of smartphone users, we quantify a racial disparity in voting wait times across a nationwide sample of polling places during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Relative to entirely-white neighborhoods, residents of entirely-black neighborhoods waited 29% longer to vote and were 74% more likely to spend more than 30 minutes at their polling place. This disparity holds when comparing predominantly white and black polling places within the same states and counties, and survives numerous robustness and placebo tests. We shed light on the mechanism for these results and discuss how geospatial data can be an effective tool to both measure and monitor these disparities going forward.

Suggested Citation

  • M. Keith Chen & Kareem Haggag & Devin G. Pope & Ryne Rohla, 2019. "Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data," Papers 1909.00024, arXiv.org, revised Oct 2020.
  • Handle: RePEc:arx:papers:1909.00024
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Peter Ganong & Damon Jones & Pascal Noel & Diana Farrell & Fiona Greig & Chris Wheat, 2020. "Wealth, Race, and Consumption Smoothing of Typical Income Shocks," Working Papers 2020-49, Becker Friedman Institute for Research In Economics.
    2. Holt, Stephen B & Vinopal, Katie M., 2021. "It's About Time: Examining Inequality in the Time Cost of Waiting," SocArXiv jbk3x, Center for Open Science.
    3. Arpit Gupta & Stijn Van Nieuwerburgh & Constantine Kontokosta, 2020. "Take the Q Train: Value Capture of Public Infrastructure Projects," NBER Working Papers 26789, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. Susan Athey & Billy A. Ferguson & Matthew Gentzkow & Tobias Schmidt, 2020. "Experienced Segregation," NBER Working Papers 27572, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Milena Almagro & Joshua Coven & Arpit Gupta & Angelo Orane-Hutchinson, 2020. "Racial Disparities in Frontline Workers and Housing Crowding during COVID-19: Evidence from Geolocation Data," Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Institute Working Papers 37, Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis.
    6. Painter, Marcus & Qiu, Tian, 2021. "Political beliefs affect compliance with government mandates," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 185(C), pages 688-701.

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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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