CC researchers find 'landslide counties' less likely to go high-tech - Colorado College

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For Immediate Release

Daniel K.N. Johnson
Associate Professor of Economics & Business
Colorado College
(719) 389-6654 or
(719) 761-8690

Kristina Lybecker
Assistant Professor of Economics & Business
Colorado College
(719) 389-6445



Research shows ‘landslide’ counties less likely to go high-tech

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Nov. 3, 2008 – Counties with large victories by either political party are less likely to change technology than counties with close votes.  And recent elections show that Republican landslide counties are more reluctant to switch than Democratic landslide counties, according to a working research paper by two Colorado College professors.
The paper, “Does HAVA (Help America Vote Act) Help the ‘Have-Nots’?: U.S. Adoption of New Election Equipment, 1980-2008” by Daniel K.N. Johnson and Kristina Lybecker, also shows that counties with younger, more educated, higher-income, more ethnically diverse populations are quicker to adopt new technology. 
In reaction to public dismay over the 2000 election process, Congress quickly enacted the Help America Vote Act (HAVA), legislation to fund the acquisition of advanced vote-counting technology.  The intention was to enable, rather than mandate, choices of new electoral equipment. 
Johnson and Lybecker, both professors of economics and business at Colorado College, took advantage of a unique historical opportunity to test whether electoral equipment follows the pattern predicted by well-established models of innovation adoption and diffusion. To achieve their results, they merged electoral data with census data on socioeconomic characteristics. 
Johnson and Lybecker conclude that fiscal constraints to acquiring electronic voting technology have been strong but are not the only limitations to technology adoption, particularly within certain types of easily identifiable populations.  In addition, the results show that HAVA has been effective in narrowing the technological gap across U.S. counties.   
From the paper, voters can not only identify what type of equipment they will face at the polls on Tuesday, but can also calculate how likely it is that someone like them (or different from them, if they prefer), placed at a random polling booth in the U.S., will face a particular type of voting equipment.  With so much at stake in the upcoming presidential election, it’s important to explore how America votes and who (what kinds of voters) may or may not be using advanced voting technology.  Johnson and Lybecker ask, “Have we really moved beyond the ‘hanging chad’?”

The working paper is viewable here:
 It is also available online via the Social Science Research Network

 For more information, contact the authors at 719-389-6654 (Daniel Johnson) or 719-389-6445 (Kristina Lybecker), or email them at and respectively.

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