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

Hoyoun Koh, Paul S. Herrnson, Michael J. Hanmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPolitical Behavior
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 2018

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voting
mobilization
experiment
citizen
voter
election
recipient
Internet
reform
demand
ability

Keywords

  • Absentee voting
  • Early voting
  • Field experiment
  • Mobilization

Cite this

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title = "Mobilization Around New Convenience Voting Methods: A Field Experiment to Encourage Voting by Mail with a Downloadable Ballot and Early Voting",
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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AU - Hanmer, Michael J.

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AB - 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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