Does the release of real-time voting results affect voter behaviour?

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Is there any study analysing, theoretically or empirically, the consequences on voting behaviour of making publicly available, in real time, the ongoing results of an election?

In the US, for example, eastern states release results while voting is still on-going in western states. Many election trackers show this information live (as with the current, 2020 election for president).

Anyone aware of research on this topic?

luchonacho

Posted 2017-08-11T14:29:56.427

Reputation: 4 876

6Stackexchange moderator elections work that way. You vote for a mod candidate by voting on an answer to a meta-question. That means you can see the vote-count of all candidates in real-time. – Philipp – 2017-08-11T14:56:21.657

@Philipp ... and the SE elections mostly go to highest-rep users (i'm not sure if that's true across all the network but I never observed any elections that I recall where highest-rep candidate didn't win). Meaning, the voting mechanism may be rather irrelevant for these elections. – user4012 – 2017-08-11T15:33:00.717

"I can imagine that this would encourage those that would vote "No" but are not willing to make the effort to do so (young?) to go out and vote." It might also do the reverse. People go, 55% against? My vote won't matter. Why bother? – Brythan – 2017-08-11T15:44:22.243

@Brythan Correct. It might also discourage those that are winning. A lot of interesting aspects! – luchonacho – 2017-08-11T15:55:05.830

I'll try and dig up some links, but there is research that things like exit polling absolutely affect election results. – None – 2017-08-11T17:15:01.643

There's some good links in this story that might work as an answer: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-rothschild/understanding-how-polls-affect-voters_b_2009034.html

– None – 2017-08-11T17:16:33.480

Answers

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There is a fairly large body of research on the effects of polling on elections — including the effects of exit polling — which tends to support the existence of strategic voting and the bandwagon effect. In short, people will read polls and change their voting behavior on the fly: moving their vote to some second-best candidate who has a better chance of winning, becoming heartened or disheartened by polls with a consequent impact on their likelihood of voting, etc.

Real-time voting results are a recent phenomena with a small number of actual cases, so if there are any direct studies of it at all, they are likely preliminary. But since real-time voting results provide the same kind of information as exit polls, we can safely assume that same intellectual and emotional conditions will occur, leading to the same general effects across the population.

Ted Wrigley

Posted 2017-08-11T14:29:56.427

Reputation: 32 554