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Voter Turnout: From Cost to Cooperation

Jason Marisam

Hamline University School of Law

September 2, 2009

St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 21, p. 190, 2009

Lawmakers' efforts to increase voter turnout will continue to flounder so long as those efforts remain focused on lowering the already low cost of voting. Accordingly, this Article argues that future efforts to achieve consistently higher and widespread voter turnout among all demographics must consider other determinants of voter behavior. The primary goal of this Article is to craft a framework based on a thorough understanding of voter motivation and behavior that helps conceptualize and analyze public efforts to increase voter turnout. The framework fills a gap in the literature by drawing from a range of fields - including election law and administration, social psychology, sociology, and political science - that have not been previously synthesized and applied to voter turnout law and policy. This Article identifies and analyzes four core voter motivations: self-interest, social identity, altruistic cooperation, and community norms. A more complete understanding of the motivations that emerge in this Article leads to new insights into the promise and limits of specific efforts to increase voter turnout. Moreover, in a section that introduces a new concept called community vote drives, this Article ties together the analysis of the four motivations and demonstrates how they can inform future state efforts to improve voting rates.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: election law, election administration, social identity, social norms, cooperation

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Date posted: September 4, 2009  

Suggested Citation

Marisam, Jason, Voter Turnout: From Cost to Cooperation (September 2, 2009). St. Thomas Law Review, Vol. 21, p. 190, 2009. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1466906

Contact Information

Jason Marisam (Contact Author)
Hamline University School of Law ( email )
1536 Hewitt Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55104-1237
United States
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