Study finds voters concerned with privacy in US elections

Nov 04, 2011

Ever had the feeling that someone was looking over your shoulder while you voted?

If so, a new Brigham Young University study says you're not alone. Using a national sample of voters, the researchers found that privacy is a major concern for voters who go against the grain with their ballot.

Specifically, BYU Chris Karpowitz, Quin Monson and Kelly Patterson found that voters in the political minority of their neighborhood – those whose vote choices were different than the majority around them – had 30 percent less confidence in the privacy of their ballot.

"People who vote differently than their neighbors are concerned about privacy – especially if they think the machine lets other people see how they vote," said Karpowitz. "And it's true of both parties wherever they are in the minority. Voters who are in line with the neighborhood norm, on the other hand, are far less concerned about issues of privacy."

In reaction to the debacle caused by voting equipment during the 2000 presidential election, election officials have focused most of their resources on acquiring the new touch-screen voting machines. Privacy curtains and booths are becoming rarer at voting stations.

"With this shift toward new voting technology, there is currently a group of voters with serious concerns about privacy," Karpowitz said.

In addition to the national data, Karpowitz and his colleagues took things a step further with a voting experiment in Davis County, Utah during the last presidential primary election.

"This particular location was perfect," Karpowitz said. "The community center had two identical gyms, and a voting official stood outside and randomly assigned people to vote in the control room or the experimental room."

Those who went into the experimental room noticed prominent signs asking people to respect the privacy of those voting and not approach the machines that were in use. With permission from election officials, the researchers also used bright tape to mark boundaries on the floor around each station. The control room was set up in identical fashion, minus the signs and the floor tape.

The researchers observed that the poll workers respected voters' personal space much more in the experimental room. And as reported in an exit poll, the voters themselves felt a greater sense of in the experimental room – except at the busiest times of the day.

"When the room wasn't crowded and busy, these measures reassured voters in the political minority," Karpowitz said. "But when the room got crowded, in the political minority still worried about whether others would see their vote choices."

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User comments : 8

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RobertKarlStonjek
4 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2011
No-one in their right mind wants to admit to voting for Sarah Palin...
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Nov 04, 2011
But it's OK for public union votes?
Vendicar_Decarian
1 / 5 (5) Nov 05, 2011
What are you blathering about RyggTard?

Only Cowards fear that their voting record will become known.
Osiris1
1 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2011
Try St Jo Cty. Mi., a majority Republikan county. In this county, several of the Democratic candidates who dared run for county sheriff have found themselves in jail on 'charges' right before the election only to have them dropped quietly after the election. No suits were ever filed over these. Folks around here value their lives more'n a plugged nickle. Republikan pols here drive their limos up to polling places and get out in their pin stripes and black shirts and silver ties and tell the voters lined up to vote for the reeepublikan of 'their choice'..in front of God and everybody...and get away with it. U walk into the polling station and are assigned a 'voter number' which is put on your ballot and is put next to your name on the registrar's roll. You are put in a place in line to use the machine so the the voting seq# in the machine is also that same number...key field in your vote record. THEY KNOW..and your job and mortgage is probably in danger for 'wrong' votes.
ryggesogn2
2.6 / 5 (5) Nov 05, 2011
What are you blathering about RyggTard?

Only Cowards fear that their voting record will become known.

"employees can request blank cards from existing unions that employees can sign to express interest in joining the union. If 30 percent of employees sign the cards, companies can hold secret-ballot elections to decide on unionization.
"The union's relentless approach, she said, eventually wore her down.

"When they approach you every day -- every day, every day," she said, "after a while it's like 'Okay. Fine. I'll sign the card.'"

Read more: http://www.foxnew...cph1c6lY
I guess this woman was a coward giving in to union intimidation.
ryggesogn2
2 / 5 (4) Nov 05, 2011
Let's test VDs bravery, who are you VD and who did you vote for last election and who to you plan to vote for next?
Doug_Huffman
5 / 5 (1) Nov 07, 2011
US voters are concerned with election privacy but not with social network privacy. Even privacy advocates that caution daily about social networking have like buttons on their web pages.

Moderators, the vending car salesman is quite annoying.
Vendicar_Decarian
1.5 / 5 (2) Nov 14, 2011
"Let's test VDs bravery, who are you VD and who did you vote for last election and who to you plan to vote for next?" - RyggTard

I always vote for whichever party offers the best Environmental policy.

Conservatives are always last on the list, as they should be.