Using Communications Technology to Promote Democratic Participation: Experimental Evidence Fromsouth Africa

64 Pages Posted: 3 Feb 2022

See all articles by Aaron Erlich

Aaron Erlich

McGill University

Karen E. Ferree

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Clark Gibson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science

Danielle F. Jung

Emory University - Department of Political Science

James Long

University of Washington

Craig McIntosh

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS)

Abstract

We present a national-scale effort to use technology to promote  political participation in an emerging democracy, South Africa.  Analysis exploits randomization of incentives and messaging on a multi-channel digital platform to encourage voting, conduct opinion polling, and enable citizen monitoring of polling places during the 2014 presidential election.   Different channels have starkly distinct demographic profiles, participation drops quickly as citizens are invited to more costly forms of engagement, and extrinsic incentives are found to be complementary to the intrinsic political motivation of participants.  Our results illustrate how low-cost communications technology can ethically be used to promote political participation.

Keywords: Elections, Technology, Randomized Experiments.

Suggested Citation

Erlich, Aaron and Ferree, Karen E. and Gibson, Clark C. and Jung, Danielle and Long, James and McIntosh, Craig, Using Communications Technology to Promote Democratic Participation: Experimental Evidence Fromsouth Africa. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4024809 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4024809

Aaron Erlich

McGill University ( email )

Karen E. Ferree

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Clark C. Gibson

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Department of Political Science ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
Code 0521
La Jolla, CA 92093-0521
United States

Danielle Jung

Emory University - Department of Political Science ( email )

Atlanta, GA 30322
United States

James Long

University of Washington ( email )

Seattle, WA 98195
United States

Craig McIntosh (Contact Author)

University of California, San Diego (UCSD) - Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS) ( email )

9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519
United States

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