Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


Political Science

Committee Chair

Matthew Jacobsmeier

Committee Member

John Kilwein

Committee Member

Erik Herron

Committee Member

Rachael Woldoff


The 2016 election was the first presidential election following the landmark Shelby County v. Holder (2013) case that invalidated Section 4(b) of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The decision in Shelby meant that certain jurisdictions with histories of racial discrimination no longer needed permission or “preclearance” from the federal government before making changes to election administration procedures. Perhaps not coincidentally, voting jurisdictions across the United States also saw a record number of polling place closures - especially in formerly preclearance areas. Past research has studied the effects of precinct closures on voter turnout in individual counties and at the state level, but never nation-wide – which is where this research differs. Using precinct data from over 2,270 voting jurisdictions across the United States, I answer the following questions: (1) who determines the location of polling places?; (2) which jurisdictions are more likely to close polling places?; (3) what types of citizens are most affected by the location and relocation of polling places? The goal of this project is to better our understanding of the causes of precinct closures, the types of jurisdictions that close precincts most frequently, and the characteristics of citizens who are most affected by precinct closures. I expect my work to make significant contributions to the study of electoral administration, constitutional law, voting behavior, and racial and ethnic politics.