Location, Location, Location: Precinct Placement and the Costs of Voting


Moshe Haspel (mhaspel@spelman.edu) is assistant professor of political science, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA 30314. H. Gibbs Knotts (gknotts@email.wcu.edu) is assistant professor of political science and public affairs, Western Carolina University, Cullowhee, NC 28723.


This article provides a new measure of voting costs by using Geographic Information Systems (GIS) tools to calculate the distance between the residence and polling place for registered voters in the city of Atlanta. Using this measure to predict turnout at the individual level, we find that small differences in distance from the polls can have a significant impact on voter turnout. We also find that moving a polling place can affect the decision to vote. In addition to providing a better understanding of the costs of voting, our findings have important implications regarding the location of polling places and the effects of altering precinct boundaries.