What’s an easy way to stop even highly motivated voters from going to the polls?
Recently I posted on how to easily increase voter turnout. Well how do you easily prevent even serious voters from doing their civic duty? All you have to do is make the polling location a little harder to get to:
The consolidation of polling places in the Vestal Central School District in New York State during the district’s 2006 budget referendum provides a naturalistic setting to study the effects of polling consolidation on voter turnout on an electorate quite distinct from previous work by Brady and McNulty (2004, The costs of voting: Evidence from a natural experiment. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Political Methodology, Palo Alto, CA). In particular, voters in local elections are highly motivated and therefore might be thought to be less affected by poll consolidation. Nevertheless, through a matching analysis we find that polling consolidation decreases voter turnout substantially, by about seven percentage points, even among this electorate, suggesting that even habitual voters can be dissuaded from going to the polls. This finding has implications for how election administrators ought to handle cost-cutting measures like consolidation.
Source: “Driving Saints to Sin: How Increasing the Difficulty of Voting Dissuades Even the Most Motivated Voters” from Political Analysis 2009 17(4):435-455