The Effects of Election Day Festivals and Early Voting Center Festivals on Voter Turnout: A Field Experiment Conducted During the 2018 Midterm Election
23 Pages Posted: 30 Mar 2020
Date Written: March 4, 2020
During the final weeks of the 2018 general election, #VoteTogether coordinated a series of non-partisan election festivals designed to encourage voter turnout in targeted precincts across the country. Building on prior experiments that assessed the effects of Election Day festivals on voter turnout in municipal, state, and presidential elections, the current study evaluates this get-out-the-vote tactic in the context of federal midterm elections. A total of 57 pairs of precincts were randomly assigned to treatment or control; in treatment locations, local groups received small grants to coordinate pre-event publicity and hold outdoor festivals near polling locations on Election Day. A separate experiment evaluated the effectiveness of festivals held at early voting centers; here, random assignment determined which of seven pairs of locations received a festival. Festivals held on Election Day appear to have had no positive effect on turnout in 2018. Insufficient pre-event publicity may have undercut the effectiveness of this tactic. On the other hand, festivals held in early voting centers were highly effective, raising turnout by 3.5 percentage points.
Keywords: Voter Turnout
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