2020 Election Simulation.pdf (363.66 kB)

Resilient voting systems during the COVID-19 pandemic: A discrete event simulation approach

Download (363.66 kB)
preprint
posted on 22.09.2020 by Adam Schmidt, Laura Albert
The 2020 General election will occur while many parts of the nation are under emergency orders related to the COVID-19 pandemic, placing new requirements and considerations on voting systems. Using discrete event simulation, we study how to design in-person voting systems whose performance are robust across many election conditions, including different levels of voter turnout, early voting participation, the number of check-in booths, and the polling location capacity. We evaluate the impact of COVID-19 protective measures on check-in and voting times, and we consider several design choices for mitigating the risks of long wait times and the risks of the COVID-19 virus, including consolidating polling locations to a small number of locations, using a sports arena as an alternative polling location, and implementing a priority queue for voters who are at high-risk for severe illness from COVID-19. We evaluate voting system design alternatives to assess the waiting times, sojourn times, line length, time spent inside, and the number of voters inside. We evaluate the model using a case study from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The analysis indicates that poll worker shortages, personalized protective equipment usage and associated protective measures, high voter turnout, or low rates of early voting can lead to extremely long voter wait times. Long wait times can be avoided by higher than typical poll worker staffing levels, staffing additional check-in locations, expanding early voting, and by not consolidating polling locations. Additionally, the analysis supports implementing a priority queue discipline effectively to reduce waiting times for vulnerable populations at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

History

Licence

Exports

Licence

Exports