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Mobilization Around New Convenience Voting Methods: A Field Experiment to Encourage Voting by Mail with a Downloadable Ballot and Early Voting

  • Paul S. Herrnson
  • Michael J. Hanmer
  • Ho Youn Koh
Original Paper

Abstract

Election reform has allowed citizens in many states to choose among convenience voting methods. We report on a field experiment that tests messages derived from theories about government responsiveness, choice, information, and convenience on the methods that citizens use to vote, namely early voting, absentee voting by mail, and absentee voting using a ballot downloaded from the internet. We find that any treatment discussing a downloadable ballot increases its usage, and the only treatment to increase use of the early voting option emphasized its implementation as a response to citizen demand. Treatments presenting the full range of convenience voting options increase turnout slightly. The most effective treatments also influence the behavior of others in the recipient’s household. Overall, the results demonstrate the efficacy of impersonal messages on voter behavior. The results have implications for the abilities of election administrators and political campaigners to structure the methods voters use to cast their ballots.

Keywords

Absentee voting Early voting Field experiment Mobilization 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Mike Charlebois and Jeff Taylor for their assistance with implementing the project, Jared McDonald and Alauna Safarpour for helpful research assistance, and the Maryland State Board of Elections for funding and access to the state’s voter files. We thank Dan Biggers, Chris Mann and David Nickerson for helpful advice, and Paul Gronke, Carl Klarner, Ken Mayer, participants at the MIT Conference on New Research on Election Administration and Reform, and participants at workshops at the University at Buffalo SUNY and Georgetown University for their comments on earlier drafts of this paper. Last but not least, we thank the editor and anonymous reviewers for their excellent feedback.

Supplementary material

11109_2018_9474_MOESM1_ESM.docx (1.4 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 1391 kb)

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul S. Herrnson
    • 1
  • Michael J. Hanmer
    • 2
  • Ho Youn Koh
    • 3
  1. 1.University of ConnecticutStorrsUSA
  2. 2.University of MarylandCollege ParkUSA
  3. 3.Nazarbayev UniversityAstanaRepublic of Kazakhstan

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