Officially Mobilizing: Iterative Mailings from a Local Government Increase Voter Turnout
17 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2020
Date Written: November 11, 2020
Low voter turnout concerns observers of U.S. elections, especially in state and local elections. Political campaigns have tested various interventions to increase turnout, but whether similar tactics are more or less impactful when used by government officials is largely unknown. Here, we report a pre-registered experiment with 1 million Philadelphia voters. In it, we partnered with city officials to send postcards to randomly selected voters before and after the spring 2019 municipal primary and again before the November election, with the post-primary postcards thanking recipients for voting or saying ``sorry we missed you.'' Another group received postcards only before the November election. Receiving the full flight of four postcards throughout the election cycle increased turnout by 1.5 percentage points; the pre-general postcards alone increased turnout by 0.8 percentage points. Unlike other impersonal interventions, postcards from governments can affordably increase turnout, especially when they build a relationship via iterative communications.
Keywords: Voter mobilization, RCT, randomized experiment, iterative communications
JEL Classification: H00
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation