Crossing the District Line: Border Mismatch and Targeted Redistribution
Electoral district borders regularly cross the borders of local governments. At the same time, legislatures allocate resources using transfers to local governments. Political parties may try to target these transfers in order to win elections, but can only do so imperfectly because of border mismatch. This border mismatch creates inequality: otherwise similar local governments receive different transfers depending on the district map. To show this, I incorporate border mismatch into a model of political competition and test the predictions using data on transfers from U.S. states to counties. The results demonstrate a novel link between redistricting and voter welfare.
Polling Place Locations and the Cost of Voting
Surprisingly little is known about the location of polling places across the United States and their effect on turnout. To fill this gap, we acquire voter registration data, voting history data, and polling locations for over 15 million voters from Pennsylvania and Georgia. Using a precinct border discontinuity design, we find small average effects of a voter’s distance to the polling place on turnout, but considerable heterogeneity. A one mile increase in distance to polling place decreases the likelihood of voting by up to 1.2 p.p., but by up to 27.6 p.p. in areas where eligible voters rely on public transportation to go to work. The availability of no excuse vote by mail may help to substantially attenuate the reduction in turnout caused by distance to the polling place.