The Journal of Politics


Are Americans Confident Their Ballots Are Counted?

R. Michael Alvareza1, Thad E. Halla2 and Morgan H. Llewellyna3

a1 California Institute of Technology

a2 University of Utah

a3 California Institute of Technology


Building on the literature that investigates citizen and voter trust in government, we analyze the topic of voter confidence in the American electoral process. Our data comes from two national telephone surveys where voters were asked the confidence they have that their vote for president in the 2004 election was recorded as intended. We present preliminary evidence that suggests confidence in the electoral process affects voter turnout. We then examine voter responses to determine the overall level of voter confidence and analyze the characteristics that influence the likelihood a voter is confident that their ballot was recorded accurately. Our analyses indicate significant differences in the level of voter confidence along both racial and partisan lines. Finally, we find voter familiarity with the electoral process, opinions about the electoral process in other voting precincts, and both general opinions about voting technology and the specific technology the voter uses significantly affect the level of voter confidence.

(Received July 24 2006)

(Accepted August 12 2007)


R. Michael Alvarez is professor of political science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125. Thad E. Hall is assistant professor of political science and research fellow, Institute for Public and International Affairs, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT 84112. Morgan H. Llewellyn is a graduate student in political science, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA 91125.