Anderson School of Management
110 Westwood Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90095
Institutional Affiliation: UCLA
NBER Working Papers and Publications
|November 2019||Racial Disparities in Voting Wait Times: Evidence from Smartphone Data|
with M. Keith Chen, Kareem Haggag, Devin G. Pope: w26487
Equal access to voting is a core feature of democratic government. Using data from millions of smartphone users, we quantify a racial disparity in voting wait times across a nationwide sample of polling places during the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Relative to entirely-white neighborhoods, residents of entirely-black neighborhoods waited 29% longer to vote and were 74% more likely to spend more than 30 minutes at their polling place. This disparity holds when comparing predominantly white and black polling places within the same states and counties, and survives numerous robustness and placebo tests. We shed light on the mechanism for these results and discuss how geospatial data can be an effective tool to both measure and monitor these disparities going forward.