Officially Mobilizing: Repeated Reminders and Feedback from Local Officials Increase Turnout

Posted: 4 Dec 2020 Last revised: 7 Mar 2022

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: March 4, 2022

Abstract

In the U.S., voter turnout in many subnational elections is concerningly low. Campaigns and organizations have tested various interventions to increase turnout, but many are resource-intensive and not feasible for local governments to implement equitably at scale. Here, we report a pre-registered experiment with 1 million Philadelphia registered voters that is one such feasible intervention. Partnering with city officials, we sent postcards to some registrants before and after the spring 2019 municipal primary and before the November election, with the post-primary postcards thanking recipients for voting or saying ``sorry we missed you.'' Others received postcards only before the November election. Receiving four postcards throughout the cycle increased November turnout by 1.5 percentage points; the two pre-general postcards increased turnout by 0.8 percentage points. Importantly, mailers increased turnout without also exacerbating racial inequalities, providing scalable, easy-to-implement techniques for local governments to adopt.

Keywords: Voter mobilization, RCT, randomized experiment, iterative communications

JEL Classification: H00

Suggested Citation

Hopkins, Daniel J. and Schwarz, Susanne and Chainani, Anjali, Officially Mobilizing: Repeated Reminders and Feedback from Local Officials Increase Turnout (March 4, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3728673 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.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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