How postregistration laws affect the turnout of citizens registered to vote

Journal Article (Review;Journal)

A well-established scholarly tradition links lower voting costs with higher turnout. Whereas previous research emphasized the costs imposed by requiring voter registration, our research assesses postregistration costs and state policies that can make it easier for registered citizens to vote. These policies include mailing each registrant a sample ballot and information about the location of his or her polling place, providing a longer voting day, and requiring firms to give their employees time off to vote. Using the 2000 Voter Supplement to the Current Population Survey, we find that all but the last of these provisions enhance turnout, especially by the young and the less educated. Compared to a state that does none of these things, the estimated turnout of high school dropouts is nearly 11 percentage points higher in a state with these "best practices"; their effect on young registrants is nearly 10 points. Because African American and Latino registrants are disproportionately younger and less educated, they would benefit disproportionately from universal adoption of such postregistration laws. We estimate that if every state adopted these best practices, overall turnout of those registered would increase approximately three percentage points.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Wolfinger, RE; Highton, B; Mullin, M

Published Date

  • January 1, 2005

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 5 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 1 - 23

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 1532-4400

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1177/153244000500500101

Citation Source

  • Scopus