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MIT Election Data and Sciences Lab

  • The MIT Election Data and Science Lab (MEDSL) Cambridge, MA (map)

Prof. Pippa Norris presented new research for a paper on "Roswell, Grassy Knolls, and Voter Fraud: Explaining erroneous perceptions of electoral malpractices", coauthored with Holly Ann Garnett and Max Groemping. 

Abstract: Why do many Americans believe that millions of fraudulent votes were cast when independent evidence refutes this claim? This study seeks to explain the reasons behind errors in public evaluations about electoral malpractices. It considers long-standing debates about the rational public and proposes that erroneous beliefs could potentially arise from voters’ psychological predispositions, partisan and media cues, and cognitive skills. The study draws on public and expert perceptions of the fairness of the vote count and operationalizes the error gap as the difference between them. The results indicate that cognitive skills (higher levels of education and knowledge), as well as partisan and media cues (partisan strength and attention to politics in the media) are associated with reduced errors and more accurate judgments. On the other hand, populist, authoritarian and conspiratorial attitudes are associated with greater error gaps between citizens and experts, in particular exaggerated perceptions of electoral malpractice.