Are Local Elections Officials Biased Against Latino Voters?

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As news of various voter-ID laws continues to make headlines, we wanted to make sure you saw one in the Washington Post.

The title? “New evidence shows election officials are biased toward Latino voters.”

Have your attention? Good. Here’s an excerpt:

Roughly 8,000 local officials – county or municipal clerks and election boards – manage the nation’s election system. These officials train local poll workers, provide information, and interact with constituents with little immediate oversight from state officials.

Here is the problem: election officials themselves also appear to be biased against minority voters, and Latinos in particular. For example, poll workers are more likely to ask minority voters to show identification, including in states without voter identification laws.

Our experiment demonstrates another form of bias: how willingly election officials answer questions from voters.

The whole story can be viewed here.

Much of the information the story was based on dealt with a new study published in the American Political Science review.

The paper is titled, “What Do I Need to Vote? Bureaucratic Discretion and Discrimination by Local Election Officials” – – here’s an excerpt:

Do street-level bureaucrats discriminate in the services they provide to constituents? We use a field experiment to measure differential information provision about voting by local election administrators in the United States.

We contact over 7,000 election officials in 48 states who are responsible for providing information to voters and implementing voter ID laws. We find that officials provide different information to potential voters of different putative ethnicities.

Emails sent from Latino aliases are significantly less likely to receive any response from local election officials than non-Latino white aliases and receive responses of lower quality. This raises concerns about the effect of voter ID laws on access to the franchise and about bias in the provision of services by local bureaucrats more generally.

Want to read it in its entirety? Here it is.

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