Officially Mobilizing: Iterative Mailings from a Local Government Increase Voter Turnout

17 Pages Posted: 4 Dec 2020

See all articles by Daniel J. Hopkins

Daniel J. Hopkins

University of Pennsylvania

Susanne Schwarz

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Anjali Chainani

City of Philadelphia - Office of the Mayor

Date Written: November 11, 2020

Abstract

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

Hopkins, Daniel J. and Schwarz, Susanne and Chainani, Anjali, Officially Mobilizing: Iterative Mailings from a Local Government Increase Voter Turnout (November 11, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3728673

Daniel J. Hopkins (Contact Author)

University of Pennsylvania ( email )

Stiteler Hall
Philadelphia, PA 19104
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.danhopkins.org

Susanne Schwarz

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Anjali Chainani

City of Philadelphia - Office of the Mayor ( email )

United States

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