The Impact of Election Jurisdiction Size
- July 17, 2012
- Election Initiatives
A recent draft paper by David Kimball, University of Missouri-Saint Louis, and Brady Baybeck, Wayne State University, found that, in the 2008 presidential election, large jurisdictions—those serving more than 50,000 voters—accounted for approximately two-thirds of the nation’s voters.
The 4,893 medium-sized jurisdictions, serving between 1,000 and 50,000 voters, accounted for nearly one-third of all voters, and the 5,149 small jurisdictions, serving fewer than 1,000 voters, accounted for just more than one percent of all voters.
These size differences have a significant impact on election administration. For example:
- Census data show that large jurisdictions have to deal with more mobile populations; they generally have a smaller percentage of residents who have not moved in the past five years than small or medium-sized jurisdictions.
- The vast majority of provisional ballots, absentee ballots, and ballots for military and overseas voters come from large jurisdictions; and
- The median number of poll workers in a small jurisdiction is just five as compared to 40 in a medium-sized jurisdiction and 753 in a large jurisdiction.