The Situation of Pollworkers and Voting Booths – Abstract
Posted by The Situationist Staff on June 21, 2009
Antony Page and Michael J Pitts recently posted their intriguing article, “Poll Workers, Election Law, and the Problem of Implicit Bias” (forthcoming in Michigan Journal of Race & Law) on SSRN. Here’s the abstract.
* * *
Racial bias in election administration – more specifically, in the interaction between pollworkers and voters at a voting booth on election day – may be implicit, or unconscious. Indeed, the operation of a polling place may present an “optimal” setting for unconscious racial bias to occur. Pollworkers sometimes have legal discretion to decide whether or not a prospective voter gets to cast a ballot, and they operate in an environment where they may have to make quick decisions, based on little information, with few concrete incentives for accuracy, and with little opportunity to learn from their errors. Even where the letter of the law does not explicitly allow for a pollworker to exercise discretion, there is a strong possibility that unconscious bias could play a role in pollworker decision-making. Whether a poll workers’ discretion is de jure or de facto, the result may be race-based discrimination between prospective voters. This article addresses how unconscious bias may play a role in the interaction between pollworkers and prospective voters and discusses some ways in which the potential for unconscious bias to operate in America’s polling places may be mitigated.
* * *
For a sample of related Situationist posts, see “The Racial Situation of Voting,” “Why Race May Influence Us Even When We “Know” It Doesn’t,” “The Interior Situation of Undecided Voters,” “On Being a Mindful Voter,” “Implicit Associations in the 2008 Presidential Election,” “The Situation of Political Animals,” and “Your Brain on Politics.”
To review all of the previous Situationist posts discussing implicit associations click on the “Implicit Associations” category in the right margin, or, for a list of such posts, click here.
Image from The Virginia Pilot.