Voter Turnout: From Cost to Cooperation
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
Date posted: September 4, 2009
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