The Registration and Turnout Effects of Automatic Voter Registration
27 Pages Posted: 1 Oct 2021 Last revised: 3 Nov 2021
Date Written: September 29, 2021
Automatic voter registration (AVR) is a popular reform that seeks to register eligible citizens to vote as a matter of course if they engage with government and provide the necessary information. Analysis of early adopting states has generally found some effect of the reform on both registration and turnout, but there has yet to be a comprehensive causal analysis. We use a variety of causal identification strategies to examine the effects of AVR on both registration and turnout. We find it raises registration rates substantially, and while these new registrants are less likely to vote, enough do participate to raise the eligible turnout rate. We also show that the effect of AVR gradually builds the longer it is in place, and that the different types of AVR have significantly different effects on both registration and turnout.
Keywords: voter registration, voter turnout, elections, election reform, American politics
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