Experiments to understand how Americans react to new election procedures

Download data and study materials from OSF

This experiment was fielded as part of a TESS telephone survey. Data and materials for all the studies included on this survey is available here.

Principal investigators:

Michael J. Hanmer

University of Maryland

Email: mhanmer@umd.edu

Homepage: http://www.gvpt.umd.edu/hanmer/

Fred Conrad

University of Michigan

Email: fconrad@isr.umich.edu

Homepage: http://sitemaker.umich.edu/fred.conrad/home

Michael Traugott

University of Michigan

Email: mtrau@umich.edu

Homepage: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/polisci/people/faculty/ci.traugottmichael_ci.detail

Sample size: 1214

Field period: 10/13/2005-2/1/2006


This study presented telephone respondents with one of 16 vignettes describing electronic voting and asked several questions concerning the degree to which they believed their votes would be counted anonymously, accurately, confidentially. The vignettes varied in whether they mentioned the use of access cards (that might potentially identify the voter), the production of a printed receipt to be verified by the voter (and that might potentially allow a recount), and how the votes are transmitted from the individual voting systems for purposes of tallying (if mentioned, the possibilities were on a CD carried by a courier, over the internet, and over the internet in encrypted form). Combining all values of these experimental factors (including no mention of a feature) produced 16 different vignettes making it possible to isolate the effect of the different factors on voters' opinions about the new technology.


Mentioning access cards should lower beliefs that voting is anonymous.
Mentioning the paper receipt should increase confidence in the accuracy of vote tallies.
Mention of transmission should lower belief that votes are confidential, i.e. not intercepted, with unencrypted internet transmission leading to the lowest evaluation of confidentiality.

Experimental Manipulations

The three factors that comprised the vignettes could be combined in 16 different forms (vignettes). These were randomly assigned to respondents.


Belief in anonymity, accuracy, and confidentiality of vote counting.

Summary of Results

The predictions were basically born out. See presentation at Midwest Association of Public Opinion Research (MAPOR).


See referenced MAPOR paper.


Conrad, F.G., Hanmer, M.J. & Traugott, M. W. (November, 2006). Voter confidence in the new generation of election technology. Paper presented at Midwest Association for Public Opinion Research, Chicago, IL.

Herrnson, Paul S., Richard G. Niemi, Michael J. Hanmer, Peter L. Francia, Benjamin B. Bederson, Frederick G. Conrad, and Michael W. Traugott. 2008. "Voter Reactions to Electronic Voting Systems: Results from a Usability Field Test." American Politics Research, 36:580-611.