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Cross-State Bias in Voting and Registration Overreporting in the Current Population Surveys

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2021

Robert A. Bernstein
Auburn University
Anita Chadha
University of Houston, Downtown
Robert Montjoy
Auburn University


There is tremendous nonrandom variation from state to state in the rates at which people overreport voting in the Current Population Surveys (CPS). What accounts for this state-level bias in overreporting? We find that the determinants of statewide rates of overreporting parallel those in our earlier findings on individual-level overreporting: overreporting is a function of higher concentrations of racial and ethnic minorities, higher rates of religious membership, and being in the Deep South. These relationships are remarkably stable over time (1980-2000), and they are unaltered by improvements in how we measure overreporting. We suggest a method for deflating reported statewide registration figures to account for this bias, assuming that these registration figures are inflated in the same way as are statewide voting figures. We replicate and extend a part of Brown, Jackson, and Wright's (1999) analysis using these deflated figures, showing that our approach can improve explanation.

Research Article
Copyright © 2008 by the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois

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