Voters’ confidence may depend on atmosphere

Kristina Deckert

Poll workers shown to help determine trust voting systems

Poll workers’ attitudes may affect voters’ confidence in the electoral system, according to a study by a Kent State professor.

Political science professor Ryan Claassen partnered with Brigham Young University to research voters’ trust in elections. The study found that voters generally like their poll workers, which assures voters that their vote will count.

“We need to increase confidence after the 2000 and 2004 election,” Claassen said. “If people lack confidence, they might not turn out to vote. Democracy doesn’t work out if we don’t have voters.”

Claassen said after the past two elections, Congress passed the Help America Vote Act, which, in part, reformed the election administration to increase voter confidence. The Boards of Elections now recruit poll workers from local employers more than from party-affiliated organizations.

“The idea is that recruiting from schools or from local employers produces a poll worker that does a good job,” Claassen said, “sometimes, even a better job than poll workers recruited from more traditional avenues.”

Claassen said during the study, the researchers asked voters to do an exit poll in Franklin and Summit counties in Ohio in November 2006. The study found that most people had positive

reactions to poll workers.

“It’s amazing to see a relationship at all between poll workers and the precinct and what voters thought,” he said. “Alternative methods of recruiting poll workers are well received by the voters.”

Claassen explained that poll workers play a vital part in determining how elections unfold.

“Poll workers give up their entire day for this,” he said. “They are important in determining how elections unfold and have a lot of power on Election Day. They make a lot of decisions, and they do a pretty good job.”

Contact news correspondent Kristina Deckert at [email protected].