Washington, June 24 : A new study suggests that polling place may influence voters' decisions.
The study led by Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith, and colleague Christian Wheeler at Stanford University revealed that voters were more likely to approve a school-funding initiative when they were assigned to cast their ballot at a school rather than churches, community centres, and other locations.
The initiative earned two per cent more votes at schools than it did from voters assigned to churches, community centres, and other locations.
"(But) it's big in (the) sense that it would be big enough to tip the scales in a close election," National Geographic quoted Berger, an assistant professor of marketing at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, as saying.
He said that voting in a school might "prime" people's mind towards a sense of civic duty, and make them more likely to support measures benefiting children.
"Voting in a school may activate school relevant norms that one should support public education," study co-author Marc Meredith of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology said in an email.
The analysis of 2000 Arizona general election showed that 54 per cent of voters approved an education-funding initiative to increase the state sales tax to 5.6 per cent from 5 per cent. The extra money boosted teacher salaries, among other things.
The team looked at 80 per cent of the areas to obtain data on the type of polling location, and how people voted.
They found that 56.02 percent of the people who voted at schools supported the initiative, whereas 53.99 per cent approved the initiative in non-school locations.
In another experiment, the subjects, who were exposed to images of schools like rows of lockers and classrooms, were more likely to support a school-funding initiative than people exposed to control pictures such as office parks.
None of the subjects, however, admitted that pictures affected their decisions.
Jaime Molera, a political consultant with The Molera Alvarez Group in Phoenix, Arizona, who was the campaign director for the 2000 education initiative, also agreed that school polling stations might have helped win the election.