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Early Voting Changes and Voter Turnout: North Carolina in the 2016 General Election

  • Hannah L. Walker
  • Michael C. Herron
  • Daniel A. Smith
Original Paper

Abstract

North Carolina offers its residents the opportunity to cast early in-person (EIP) ballots prior to Election Day, a practice known locally as “One-Stop” voting. Following a successful legal challenge to the state’s controversial 2013 Voter Information and Verification Act, North Carolina’s 100 counties were given wide discretion over the hours and locations of EIP voting for the 2016 General Election. This discretion yielded a patchwork of election practices across the state, providing us with a set of natural experiments to study the effect of changes in early voting hours on voter turnout. Drawing on individual-level voting records from the North Carolina State Board of Elections, our research design matches voters on race, party, and geography. We find little evidence that changes to early opportunities in North Carolina had uniform effects on voter turnout. Nonetheless, we do identify areas in the presidential battleground state where voters appear to have reacted to local changes in early voting availability, albeit not always in directions consistent with the existing literature. We suspect that effects of changes to early voting rules are conditional on local conditions, and future research on the effects of election law changes on turnout should explore these conditions in detail.

Keywords

Elections American politics Voting Political behavior Election reform Racial and ethnic politics 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors would like to thank Matt Barreto, Loren Collingwood, Mackenzie Israel Trummel and Tye Rush for their support and feedback on this project. We are also grateful to our anonymous reviewers. Replication files are available here:  https://doi.org/10.7910/DVN/2JCJLX.

Supplementary material

11109_2018_9473_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (537 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (pdf 536 KB)

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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hannah L. Walker
    • 1
  • Michael C. Herron
    • 2
    • 3
  • Daniel A. Smith
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Political ScienceRutgers UniversityNew BrunswickUSA
  2. 2.Hertie School of GovernanceBerlinGermany
  3. 3.Dartmouth CollegeHanoverUSA
  4. 4.University of FloridaGainesvilleUSA

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