¡Vota!: Spanish-Language Ballots Affect the Policy Preferences of Voters
Rothschild, Connor; Scannell, Maddy; Stone, Eric; Berton, Sarah
Present research related to racial group interactions has pointed to the existence of a group status threat; when a majority group feels threatened, it takes action to protect its status. This backlash has been observed in white people when primed with an increase in Hispanic immigration or demographic statistics indicating that white people as a racial group will no longer be in the numerical majority. Given these demographic trends and prior literature, this study investigates if backlash can occur against Spanish-speaking populations in elections when voters are exposed to an English-Spanish bilingual ballot. Utilizing Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, 723 participants voted in a mock election with either a monolingual English or bilingual ballot. The ballot contained two races: a mayoral race with a Democrat and Republican and a proposition to support Deferred Action on Childhood Arrivals (DACA). Participants then answered a series of questions about their political ideology and perceptions of group status. The results from the election and post-election questionnaire indicate that white, non-Spanish-speaking conservatives report a higher group status threat in the post-election survey, in line with previous literature. In terms of altering election results, we found that the mayoral race was not significantly affected by the presence of Spanish. However, white, non-Spanish-speaking moderates tended to vote against DACA when exposed to Spanish. As demographics change in the United States, there may be an increased need for bilingual ballots as stipulated under the Voting Rights Act, and given the results of this study, that increase could have electoral consequences.
Poster presented at the Rice Undergraduate Research Symposium April 10, 2019. The accompanying paper was the recipient of the Hudspeth Award for Best Seminar Paper in Political Science.ﾠ