The Gatekeepers of US Elections: Exploring Street Level Bureaucrats in Montana

Sara Rinfret, Christina Barsky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Following the 2016 presidential election, the Trump administration pressed for the creation of a nationwide voter fraud investigatory commission, which is now inactive. However, some Americans deactivated their voter registration due to privacy concerns. Therefore, additional research is needed to explore the role of street-level bureaucrats or front-line actors in the administration of elections. The purpose of this research is to examine the public’s perceptions of the gatekeepers of U.S. elections–civic entrepreneurs (e.g. election administrators). The researchers in this study conducted a telephone survey of 405 randomly selected registered voters in Montana to uncover the level of confidence citizens in a large and rural state have broadly about the administration of electoral processes. The results made it clear that local election administrators are inherently civic entrepreneurs because their interactions with citizens directly influence the publics’ trust in electoral processes, and in turn, their participation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1357-1365
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Public Administration
Issue number16
StatePublished - Dec 9 2020


  • Montana
  • Street level bureaucrat
  • election administration


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