Date of Award

2021

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Systems Engineering

Department

Mechanical, Industrial and Systems Engineering

First Advisor

Gretchen A. Macht

Abstract

While previous research in elections has utilized systems engineering methods to address the issue of long lines, this work has primarily focused on the development of resource allocation methods through basic queuing theory and simulation modeling. While resource allocation plays a critical role in addressing long lines, little work has observed the effect of the physical environment on the system.

The purpose of this work was to explore the effect of layout (i.e., the layout of voting equipment and path directionality) on voting system performance (i.e., average voter travel distance and average voter time-in-system) at different turnout levels in a theoretical voting system. For the purposes of this research, a two-step voting system was modeled and a rectangular room of 1,000 sqft was used as the theoretical polling location. Facilities layout planning and computational analysis utilizing discrete event simulation was performed on the systems at varying levels of turnout. The results of the simulation were then statistically compared using t-tests with a Bonferroni corrected alpha for pairwise comparisons.

The results indicate that layout and path directionality have a significant effect on average voter travel distance, regardless of turnout, and the Perimeter layout results in the smallest average travel distance and the shortest average time-in-system. However, as voter turnout increases, the effect of layout on time-in-system becomes overshadowed by the time voters spend in queue. It was also found that path directionality has a significant impact on average voter travel distance, and which path directionality is most efficient is dependent upon the layout method used. Contrarily, path directionality was not found to have a significant effect on the average time-in-system. This work exemplifies that layout is a critical aspect to consider in the design of future elections and provides valuable insight for election administrators and future researchers into the efficiency of various layout methods and path directionalities.

Available for download on Sunday, August 13, 2023

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