Voting Experiences, Perceptions of Fraud, and Voter Confidence
Working Paper No.:  139
Date Published:  2020-07-13


R. Michael Alvarez, California Institute of Technology

Jian Cao, California Institute of Technology

Yimeng Li, California Institute of Technology


Assuring voter confidence is important for the legitimacy of democratic elections. In this paper we take advantage of a large online survey of registered voters in a single election jurisdiction, Orange County (CA), that was implemented immediately after the November 2018 midterm elections, to test four hypotheses about the correlates of voter confidence. Our results show that voters who cast mail ballots are less confident about their own votes being counted correctly than in-person voters. For both types of voters, those who have poor experiences with the voting process are much less likely to report confidence in the election. We also find that voters who have strong concerns about election fraud are less likely to report being confident in the election. Our last result indicates that information from news and social media is associated with a decline in voter confidence in election administration at the national level. Given the many conversations about election fraud that have occurred since the 2016 presidential election, we conclude by discussing the implications of our results for future elections in the United States.


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