James (Jimmy) Toscano is a senior from Orlando, Florida. On campus, he is a senator in Duke Student Government, strategic task force member with the Duke Board of Trustees, party liaison for Duke Democrats, Research Assistant to Professor Catherine Admay, and a Political Engagement Project Fellow with the Hart Leadership Program. Off campus, he was a poll worker for the 2020 election, Impact Fellow with the Progressive Turnout Project, intern with the NC Democratic Party, helped to design a nonpartisan voter education website, and participated study abroad programs in Chile, Serbia, and Scotland. After graduation, he hopes to participate in a national service program and eventually pursue a career in diplomacy.
Whose Ballots Are Rejected and Why? Demographic Dynamics of Provisional Ballots in North Carolina
Faculty Advisor: Catherine A. Admay
Abstract: Provisional ballots were designed to be our democracy’s final line of defense against disenfranchisement. Through provisional voting, every person has the right to fill out a ballot. However, many of these ballots are rejected or only partially counted. Whose ballots are rejected and why? From previous scholarship, we know that provisional voting is more prevalent in areas with large concentrations of nonwhite residents. Additionally, the first scholars to examine individual voters’ provisional ballot data found that in North Carolina’s 2016 election, rejected provisional ballots affected minority voters disproportionately. I apply a modified version of their regression model to multiple elections in North Carolina to provide the most comprehensive picture of provisional voters’ demographics to date. Through this analysis, I identify consistently unequal treatment of voters under the current system and argue that states ought to modify their election policies to reduce the need for provisional ballots.