Bender on Algorithmic Elections

Sarah M.L. Bender (University of Michigan Law School) has posted “Algorithmic Elections” (Michigan Law Review, Forthcoming) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:

Artificial intelligence (AI) has entered election administration. Across the country, election officials are beginning to use AI systems to purge voter records, verify mail-in ballots, and draw district lines. Already, these technologies are having a profound effect on voting rights and democratic processes. However, they have received relatively little attention from AI experts, advocates, and policymakers. Scholars have sounded the alarm on a variety of “algorithmic harms” resulting from AI’s use in the criminal justice system, employment, healthcare, and other civil rights domains. Many of these same algorithmic harms manifest in elections and voting, but have been underexplored and remain unaddressed.

This Note offers three contributions. First, it documents the various forms of “algorithmic decisionmaking” that are currently present in U.S. elections. This is the most comprehensive survey of AI’s use in elections and voting to date. Second, it explains how algorithmic harms resulting from these technologies are disenfranchising eligible voters and disrupting democratic processes. Finally, it identifies several unique characteristics of the U.S. election administration system that are likely to complicate reform efforts and must be addressed to safeguard voting rights.