Advice for Raising Registration and Turnout Rates: Field Experiments on 37 College Campuses

25 Pages Posted: 13 Aug 2009 Last revised: 25 Aug 2009

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

In the United States, the burden of registering to vote falls upon prospective voters. Voters must learn how, when, and where to register, and they must take the time to complete a registration form each time they relocate. College campuses provide excellent testing grounds to measure the effectiveness of different approaches to voter registration. Like other young people, who turnout at low rates, students move frequently and have little or no voter history. Using student directories to randomly assign students to different registration appeals, this study demonstrates the effectiveness of face-to-face, classroom-based appeals, and the corresponding ineffectiveness of less personal mail- and email-based approaches to registration. Unlike mail and email campaigns, classroom presentations provide young citizens with the combination of information, motivation, and designated time required to successfully complete the registration process.

Keywords: field experiment, voter registration, civic engagement, electoral behavior

Suggested Citation

Bennion, Elizabeth A., Advice for Raising Registration and Turnout Rates: Field Experiments on 37 College Campuses (2009). APSA 2009 Toronto Meeting Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1449375

Elizabeth A. Bennion (Contact Author)

Indiana University South Bend ( email )

South Bend, IN 46634
United States

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