Voter Attitudes Toward Poll Workers in the 2008 Election

Specific Elections: 
Working Paper No.: 
77
Date Published: 
04/01/2009
Author(s): 
Thad E. Hall
University of Utah

At a conference on election reform held by the National Academies of Science in 2004, Indiana’s Secretary of State, Todd Rokita, referred to poll workers as “the street level lawyers” of elections. The reason for his statement was obvious: poll workers, in polling places, are the people who determine how well an election is run and have the power over its implementation (Alvarez and Hall 2006; Claassen, Magleby, Monson, and Patterson 2008; Hall, Monson, and Patterson, forthcoming). Because elections are held on a single day in a single window of time, poll workers often are the final arbiters of the electoral process because only with difficulty can voters appeal the decision of a poll worker on election day. Given the critical role of elections in allowing voters to express their preferences for candidates and government policy, poll workers play a critical role in politics and are key front-line, albeit largely volunteer, public administrators.

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