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20-06-2018 | Original Paper | Issue 4/2019

Political Behavior 4/2019

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

Journal:
Political Behavior > Issue 4/2019
Authors:
Paul S. Herrnson, Michael J. Hanmer, Ho Youn Koh
Important notes

Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s11109-018-9474-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
The data used for the analysis can be found on the Political Behavior Dataverse: https://​doi.​org/​10.​7910/​DVN/​Z0F7KO.

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.

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