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Journal ArticleDOI

Absentee voting, mobilization, and participation

01 Mar 2001-American Politics Research (SAGE Publications)-Vol. 29, Iss: 2, pp 183-195
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors test the hypothesis that persons who choose to vote early are already highly motivated to participate in the political process and find support for this hypothesis, which raises questions about the extent to which liberal absentee laws can expand the electorate.
Abstract: Liberal absentee laws are designed to make voting easier, which should stimulate turnout. Using data from the National Election Studies, we test the hypothesis that persons who choose to vote early are already highly motivated to participate in the political process. We find support for this hypothesis, which raises questions about the extent to which liberal absentee laws can expand the electorate. Furthermore, contrary to past research, we see the Republican advantage in absentee voting as a result of self-selection rather than party mobilization.

Summary (2 min read)

JEFFREY A. KARP SUSAN A. BANDUCCI

  • Universiteit van Amsterdam Liberal absentee laws are designed to make voting easier, which should stimulate turnout.
  • An earlier version of this article was prepared for presentation at the annual conference of the Southwestern Social Science Association, March 31-April 3, 1999, San Antonio, Texas.
  • Dubin and Kalsow (1996) found that the passage of a 1977 bill in California that allowed all voters access to absentee ballots had the effect of increasing the level of absentee voting but did not increase the level of overall participation (p. 388).
  • If this is the case, liberal absentee laws have the potential of increasing overall turnout to the Republicans’ advantage (see also Jeffe & Jeffe, 1990).

DATA AND METHOD

  • Studies that examine the impact of electoral laws on turnout at the individual level have relied on the Voter Supplement of the Current Population Survey (CPS) (see, e.g., Oliver, 1996; Mitchell & Wlezien, 1995; Wolfinger & Rosenstone, 1980).
  • This question has been asked in the past seven NESs.
  • Rather than party mobilization of unlikely voters, the authors expect those already engaged in politics to be more likely to take advantage of the convenience of absentee voting.
  • Two additional variables are used to control for states that did not have a gubernatorial or Senate race so that the effective reference category for the competitive variables is made up of noncompetitive races.
  • Omitting the alternative from the model is inefficient but will produce the same results as MNL if the IIA assumption is valid (Greene, 1997, p. 921).

RESULTS

  • Table 1 displays the results from the above models.
  • To aid the interpretation of the logit coefficients, the derived probabilities for each of the independent variables are presented in Table 2.
  • The full impact of political activity is evident in Table 2, which shows that the difference in the probability of voting (over abstaining) between the most and least politically active is .76.
  • In contrast, absentee laws appear to do very little to encourage voting among groups that are significantly less likely to vote in person, such as non-Whites or independents.
  • As the positive coefficients for expanded and universal show, individuals residing in states with relaxed absentee laws are more likely to vote, whether it be in person or by absentee, than citizens in other states.

DISCUSSION

  • Overall, these findings suggest that self-selection plays a greater role in determining who votes absentee than does party mobilization.
  • The authors conclude that persons who vote early are likely to be educated, active in politics, and partisan.
  • Liberal absentee laws do appear to help stimulate turnout among certain groups, such as persons with disabilities and students.
  • If the authors are correct in suggesting that absentee voting is highest among those groups already likely to vote, the electorate may not be expanded by absentee voting at all; instead, simply more voters are choosing to vote by mail.
  • In all three states, these levels of absentee voting are higher than in previous presidential election years; nonetheless, overall turnout declined between the 1992 and 1996 elections.

NOTES

  • Although the measure does not specifically ask if a respondent received an absentee ballot application in the mail, the authors feel that the question is broad enough to include those who did.
  • The model was also estimated with dummy variables for each election year to take into account unmeasured variables that may affect turnout.
  • Some states have relaxed their requirements since 1992, but these states were already classified as universal.
  • Hausman’s test for the validity of the independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA) is based on the discrepancy between multinomial logit (MNL) and binomial logit results.
  • A test of further interactions between election year and partisanship activity also reveals a significant and stronger effect, even after controlling for education and political activity.

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AMERICAN POLITICS RESEARCH / MARCH 2001Karp, Banducci / ABSENTEE VOTING
ABSENTEE VOTING,
MOBILIZATION, AND PARTICIPATION
JEFFREY A. KARP
SUSAN A. BANDUCCI
Universiteit van Amsterdam
Liberal absentee laws are designed to make voting easier, which should stimulate turnout. Using
data from the National Election Studies, we test the hypothesis that persons who choose to vote
early are already highly motivated to participate in the political process. We find support for this
hypothesis, which raises questions about the extent to which liberal absentee laws can expand
the electorate. Furthermore, contrary to past research, we see the Republican advantage in absen
-
tee voting as a result of self-selection rather than party mobilization.
Empirical examinations of low turnout have focused on the various
costs of voting (Piven & Cloward, 1988; Teixeira, 1992; Wolfinger &
Rosenstone, 1980). Because theoretical models of voting typically
characterize the decision to vote as a function of collective and indi-
vidual benefits weighed against the cost of voting (Downs, 1957;
Riker & Ordeshook, 1968), lowering the costs of voting is seen as one
way of increasing turnout. Relaxing eligibility requirements for
absentee voters and allowing permanent absentee status so that voters
can cast their ballots by mail are reforms designed to make voting eas
-
ier; these reforms have the potential to stimulate turnout. Initially,
absentee laws were intended for those persons who would otherwise
not be able to vote in person, such as servicemen away from home and,
later, persons with disabilities and elders. Yet, in recent years, an
increasing number of states have relaxed these restrictions to make
voting more convenient for everyone. In 11 states, citizens can cast an
Authors’ Note: The research for this article was completed while at the University of Waikato.
An earlier version of this article was prepared for presentation at the annual conference of the
Southwestern Social Science Association, March 31-April 3, 1999, San Antonio, Texas. Author
-
ship is equal; names are listed in reverse alphabetical order. We are grateful to the Inter-
University Consortium for Political and Social Research for providing us with the National Elec
-
tion Studies and Randall Partin for providing data on gubernatorial elections.
AMERICAN POLITICS RESEARCH, Vol. 29 No. 2, March 2001 183-195
© 2001 Sage Publications, Inc.
183

absentee ballot for any reason (Oliver, 1996). Where these reforms
have been implemented, there has been a substantial increase in the
number of voters choosing to vote by mail or vote early in person. In
California and Washington, the proportion of voters casting a mail
ballot increased to more than 20% in the 1996 presidential election
(California Secretary of State, 1996; Washington Secretary of State,
1996). In Oregon, almost half of those participating in the 1996 presi
-
dential election chose to do so by mail (Oregon Secretary of State,
1996). In Texas, where voters can cast their votes in person up to 3
weeks before a general election, 30% have chosen to do so since 1991
(Stein, 1998).
Reformers anticipate that the adoption of more permissive absentee
laws allowing voters to participate through the mail at their conve
-
nience will help to stimulate turnout. Whether permissive absentee
laws produce higher turnout or serve as a substitute for voting in per-
son is not clear. Dubin and Kalsow (1996) found that the passage of a
1977 bill in California that allowed all voters access to absentee bal-
lots had the effect of increasing the level of absentee voting but did not
increase the level of overall participation (p. 388). Stein and Garcia-
Monet (1997) found evidence of a small but significant increase in
turnout as a result of early voting in Texas (p. 665). Patterson and
Caldeira (1985) suggested that absentee voting and its impact on turn-
out are sensitive to partisan efforts to mobilize voters. Oliver (1996)
suggested that the adoption of permissive absentee laws makes it eas-
ier for parties to mobilize their supporters, which, in turn, helps to
stimulate turnout. Republicans, according to Oliver, have been using
the liberalization of absentee voter eligibility as an opportunity to
mobilize their supporters by making it easier for them to register and
vote absentee. This mobilization thesis helps to explain some of the
recent come- from-behind victories where apparent Democratic vic
-
tories have been upset after the counting of absentee votes. If this is the
case, liberal absentee laws have the potential of increasing overall
turnout to the Republicans’ advantage (see also Jeffe & Jeffe, 1990).
Surveys suggest that the higher income, older, and more conserva
-
tive voters are more likely to use the absentee process (Cook, 1991;
Oliver, 1996) and vote early in person (Stein 1998). Early voters in
Texas demonstrate a greater interest in politics and stronger partisan
and ideological ties than Election Day voters (Stein, 1998). These
184 AMERICAN POLITICS RESEARCH / MARCH 2001

individuals are also more likely to vote. Therefore, relaxing absentee
requirements may only serve to increase voting among the groups
already most likely to participate. This hypothesis is consistent with
current research on turnout that suggests that relaxed registration
requirements (Brians & Grofman, 1999; Calvert & Gilchrist 1993), early
voting (Stein & Garcia-Monet, 1997), and all mail elections (Karp &
Banducci, 2000) provide a convenience for those already likely to vote
by virtue of their education, age, and income rather than attracting the
disadvantaged to the polls. Therefore, the potential for easy absentee
voting to expand the electorate may be limited.
The answer to whether voters who would not otherwise participate
are taking advantage of permissive absentee laws, as electoral reform
-
ers intend, has to date remained elusive given the reliance on data
aggregated at either the county or precinct level (Dubin & Kalsow,
1996; Patterson & Caldeira, 1985; Richardson & Neeley, 1996;
Stein & Garcia-Monet, 1997). In the following analysis, we take ad-
vantage of a design that allows us to examine whether absentee laws
attract politically inactive individuals either through convenience or
mobilization. This allows us to address the question of whether the
Republican advantage in absentee voting is due to the mobilization of
Republican voters or whether the advantage is due to self-selection.
DATA AND METHOD
Studies that examine the impact of electoral laws on turnout at the
individual level have relied on the Voter Supplement of the Current
Population Survey (CPS) (see, e.g., Oliver, 1996; Mitchell & Wlezien,
1995; Wolfinger & Rosenstone, 1980). The large number of cases
sampled from every state allows for sufficient variation in electoral
arrangements such as registration requirements and large samples of
subgroups of voters such as absentee voters. However, the lack of
appropriate measures for party activity and partisanship in the CPS
means that party mobilization and party identification cannot be prop
-
erly measured. Therefore, hypotheses about partisan advantages in
absentee voting are difficult to test. Moreover, relying on proxy vari
-
ables of party activity such as whether a state has open or closed pri
-
maries as indicators of party mobilization (see Oliver, 1996) compli
-
Karp, Banducci / ABSENTEE VOTING 185

cates the interpretation of the results when the proxy variable is not
validated.
The data used in previous studies can be improved in two ways.
First, to remedy problems with appropriate measures of party identifi
-
cation and party mobilization, survey data measuring these variables
accurately are necessary. Second, a large national sample is required
to allow for variation in electoral laws and a sufficient number of sub
-
groups of voters. To meet these two requirements, we employ data
from the National Election Studies (NES) that are pooled across five
successive elections. Pooling the data generates a sample of absentee
voters sufficiently large for analysis (N = 446) and covers 42 states.
These data allow us to better test the influence of mobilization on
absentee voting as well as test additional hypotheses. To measure
mobilization, we use whether respondents report having been con-
tacted by anyone about registering to vote or getting out to vote (see
Rosenstone & Hansen, 1993).
1
This question has been asked in the
past seven NESs.
Rather than party mobilization of unlikely voters, we expect those
already engaged in politics to be more likely to take advantage of the
convenience of absentee voting. Therefore, we expect persons with
higher education and those who are politically active to be more likely
to vote absentee. We measure political activity by constructing a scale
of five items measuring political participation (α = .67). These items
consist of the following: whether individuals attend political meet-
ings, display political propaganda, work for a political campaign,
donate money to candidates, or donate money to political parties (see
appendix). Similarly, we expect partisans, whether Republican or
Democrat, to be more likely to vote absentee than nonpartisans.
Therefore, we include a dummy variable for independents and another
dummy variable for Republicans (with those identifying with the
Democratic Party as the referent category).
We also employ contextual variables to measure the competitive
-
ness of statewide races. If the mobilization thesis is correct, we would
expect to find higher rates of absentee voting in states with competi
-
tive races. To measure competitiveness, we identify Senate and guber
-
natorial races where the plurality winner was separated by less than
5% of the vote. The variable takes on a value of 2 when both races are
competitive, 1 when either race is competitive, and 0 if neither are
186 AMERICAN POLITICS RESEARCH / MARCH 2001

competitive. Two additional variables are used to control for states
that did not have a gubernatorial or Senate race so that the effective
reference category for the competitive variables is made up of non
-
competitive races. A dummy variable is also included to distinguish
midterm from presidential elections.
2
To account for variations in state absentee laws, three categories are
used following Oliver’s (1996) classification (see appendix for
details).
3
Dummy variables are used to identify states that allow any
-
one to vote absentee as well as for states that have some restrictions
(reference category consists of states with the most restrictive absen
-
tee laws).
Our dependent variable is based on three choices: whether to abstain,
vote in person, or vote absentee. Multinomial logit (MNL) could be
used to estimate a three-choice model. However, MNL assumes the
independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA). Therefore, we would
have to assume that the probability of voting in person is completely
independent of whether one has the option of voting absentee. Such an
assumption may be unrealistic given that one of the primary reasons
for adopting liberal absentee laws was to help compensate those who
find going to the polls too difficult. An alternative method that does
not carry the same assumption is to omit one of the alternatives and
estimate three binomial logit models. Omitting the alternative from
the model is inefficient but will produce the same results as MNL if the
IIA assumption is valid (Greene, 1997, p. 921).
4
Hence, we estimate
three binomial logit models—Vote in Person and Abstain, Vote Absen
-
tee and Abstain, and redundantly, Vote Absentee and Vote in Person.
This method is less efficient but more conservative than MNL.
5
RESULTS
Table 1 displays the results from the above models. To aid the inter
-
pretation of the logit coefficients, the derived probabilities for each of
the independent variables are presented in Table 2. The difference
between the minimum and maximum probabilities for a given vari
-
able are calculated by holding the remaining independent variables
constant at their means or modes.
Karp, Banducci / ABSENTEE VOTING 187

Citations
More filters
Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article reviewed evidence from numerous studies of electoral reform to demonstrate that reforms designed to make it easier for registered voters to cast their ballots actually increase, rather than reduce, socioeconomic biases in the composition of the voting public.
Abstract: A number of electoral reforms have been enacted in the United States in the past three decades that are designed to increase turnout by easing restrictions on the casting of ballots. Both proponents and opponents of electoral reforms agree that these reforms should increase the demographic representativeness of the electorate by reducing the direct costs of voting, thereby increasing turnout among less-privileged groups who, presumably, are most sensitive to the costs of coming to the polls. In fact, these reforms have been greatly contested because both major political parties believe that increasing turnout among less-privileged groups will benefit Democratic politicians. I review evidence from numerous studies of electoral reform to demonstrate that reforms designed to make it easier for registered voters to cast their ballots actually increase, rather than reduce, socioeconomic biases in the composition of the voting public. I conclude with a recommendation that we shift the focus of electoral reform from an emphasis on institutional changes to a concentration on political engagement.

251 citations


Cites background or methods from "Absentee voting, mobilization, and ..."

  • ...INTERNET VOTING Much of the potential impact of the Internet on voting is speculative....

    [...]

  • ...INTERNET VOTING Internet voting is a voting system that would enable voters to cast a secure and secret ballot over the Internet....

    [...]

  • ...In an individual-level analysis of CPS data, Oliver (1996) comes to the same conclusion as Karp and Banducci (2001) : voters with higher incomes and more education are more likely than other voters to take advantage of absentee ballot laws (for a review that comes to similar findings, see Hansen, 2001)....

    [...]

  • ...EARLY VOTING Since 1988, voters in Texas and 13 other states have been permitted to cast ballots, in person, up to 3 weeks before the election at designated poling sites (Hansen, 2001; Stein, 1998).6 As is the case with permissive absentee balloting, voters do not have to establish prior cause to cast early ballots....

    [...]

  • ...Karp and Banducci (2001) investigated whether liberal absentee voting laws expand the electorate using a national sample (42 states) of National Election Study data pooled from five successive elections....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: Karp and Banducci as discussed by the authors examined the question of whether or not reducing the costs of voting by conducting elections entirely through the mail rather than at the traditional polling place increases participation and found that voting only by mail is likely to increase turnout among those who are already predisposed to vote, such as those with higher socioeconomic status.
Abstract: Jeffrey A. Karpand Susan A. Banducci We examine the question of whether or not reducing the costs of voting by conducting elections entirely through the mail rather than at the traditional polling place increases participation. Using election data from Oregon, we examine whether or not elections conducted through the mail increase turnout in both local and statewide elections. Using precinct-level data merged with census data we also examine how postal voting may alter the composition of the electorate. We find that, while all-mail elections tend to produce higher turnout, the most significant increases occur in low stimulus elections, such as local elections or primaries where turnout is usually low. The increase in turnout, however, is not uniform across demographic groups. Voting only by mail is likely to increase turnout among those who are already predisposed to vote, such as those with higher socioeconomic status. Like other administrative reforms designed to make voting easier, postal voting has the potential to increase turnout. However, the expanded pool of voters will be limited most likely to those already inclined to vote but find it inconvenient to go to the polling place. This conclusion is consistent with the growing body of research that suggests that relaxing administrative requirements is not likely to be the panacea for low turnout among the disenfranchised.

176 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: This article showed that the most popular reform, early voting, actually decreases voter turnout when implemented by itself, an unanticipated consequence that has significant implications for policy and for theories of how state governments can influence voter turnout.
Abstract: State governments have experimented with a variety of election laws to make voting more convenient and increase turnout. The impacts of these reforms vary in surprising ways, providing insight into the mechanisms by which states can encourage or reduce turnout. Our theory focuses on mobilization and distinguishes between the direct and indirect effects of election laws. We conduct both aggregate and individual-level statistical analyses of voter turnout in the 2004 and 2008 presidential elections. The results show that Election Day registration has a consistently positive effect on turnout, whereas the most popular reform-early voting-is actually associated with lower turnout when it is implemented by itself We propose that early voting has created negative unanticipated consequences by reducing the civic significance of elections for individuals and altering the incentives for political campaigns to invest in mobilization. dvocates, journalists, and politicians frequently propose changes to election laws out of the belief that making voting easier will increase voter turnout. It seems logical that making voting more convenient-through relaxed registration rules, registra­ tion on Election Day, voting prior to Election Day, or ex­ panded absentee voting-will encourage more people to cast ballots. We challenge this notion and show that the most popular reform-early voting-actually decreases turnout when implemented by itself, an unanticipated consequence that has significant implications for policy and for theories of how state governments can influence turnout. This result is counterintuitive, and it certainly runs against the grain of conventional wisdom. Our expla

159 citations

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors showed that voters who are assigned to vote by mail turn out at lower rates than those who are sent to a polling place, while the demographic characteristics of these voters mirror those of pollingplace voters who take part in the same elections.
Abstract: Would holding elections by mail increase voter turnout? Many electoral reform advocates predict that mail ballot elections will boost participation, basing their prediction on the high turnout rate among absentee voters and on the rise in voter turnout after Oregon switched to voting by mail. However, selection problems inherent to studies of absentee voters and Oregon give us important reasons to doubt whether their results would extend to more general applications of voting by mail. In this paper, we isolate the effects of voting in mail ballot elections by taking advantage of a natural experiment in which voters are assigned in a nearly random process to cast their ballots by mail. We use matching methods to ensure that, in our analysis, the demographic characteristics of these voters mirror those of pollingplace voters who take part in the same elections. Drawing on data from a large sample of California counties in two general elections, we find that voting by mail does not deliver on the promise of greater participation in general elections. In fact, voters who are assigned to vote by mail turn out at lower rates than those who are sent to a polling place. Analysis of a sample of local special elections, by contrast, indicates that voting by mail can increase turnout in these otherwise low-participation contests.

117 citations


Cites background from "Absentee voting, mobilization, and ..."

  • ...Oliver (1996) and Karp and Banducci (2001) find that registrants who choose to vote absentee are among the most likely to vote anyway....

    [...]

  • ...Studies of people who have chosen to vote absentee (Patterson and Caldeira 1985; Oliver 1996; Dubin and Kalsow 1996a, 1996b; Karp and Banducci 2001) cannot be used to predict the impact of a shift to mail ballot elections because these studies examine a subgroup of registered voters who are…...

    [...]

  • ...Voluntary absentee voters tend to be older and better educated than other registrants (Barreto et al. 2006) and more politically active (Oliver 1996; Karp and Banducci 2001)....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: The authors examined the effect of choice fatigue on decision making and found that facing more decisions before a given contest signifi cally increases the tendency to abstain or rely on decision shortcuts, such as voting for the status quo or the first listed candidate.
Abstract: In this paper, we examine the eect of "choice fatigue"on decision making. We exploit a natural experiment in which voters face the same contest at dierent ballot positions due to dierences in the number of local issues on their ballot. Facing more decisions before a given contest signi…cantly increases the tendency to abstain or rely on decision shortcuts, such as voting for the status quo or the …rst listed candidate. We estimate that, without choice fatigue, abstentions would decrease by 8%, and 6% of the propositions in our dataset would have passed rather than failed.

94 citations


Cites background from "Absentee voting, mobilization, and ..."

  • ...In terms of economic impact, we estimate that if an average contest was placed at the top of the ballot, undervotes would decrease by 8%, the percentage of no votes on an average proposition would fall by 3.2 points, and the percentage of votes for the first candidate would fall by 0.7 points....

    [...]

  • ...One might predict a smaller or negligible choice fatigue effect for absentee voters, as they have more time to vote, potentially more information at their disposal, and have been characterized as of a higher socioeconomic status and more politically active (Karp and Banducci 2001)....

    [...]

References
More filters
Book
01 Jan 1957
TL;DR: Downs presents a rational calculus of voting that has inspired much of the later work on voting and turnout as discussed by the authors, particularly significant was his conclusion that a rational voter should almost never bother to vote.
Abstract: Downs presents a rational calculus of voting that has inspired much of the later work on voting and turnout. Particularly significant was his conclusion that a rational voter should almost never bother to vote. This conclusion, especially as elaborated on by Riker and Ordeshook (1968) has shifted the attention of modern political scientists from explaining why people don't vote to explaining why they do.

14,677 citations

Book
01 Jan 1993
TL;DR: The Puzzle of Participation in American Politics as discussed by the authors is the political logic of political participation in American politics, and it has been solved by the mobilization and participation of citizens in government and electoral politics.
Abstract: Foreword by Keith Reeves of Swarthmore College 1 Introduction: The Puzzle of Participation in American Politics 2 The Political Logic of Political Participation 3 Citizen Participation in American Politics, 1952-1990 4 Citizen Participation in Governmental Politics 5 Citizen Participation in Electoral Politics 6 Mobilization and Participation in Electoral Politics 7 Solving the Puzzle 8 Conclusion: Mobilization and Political Equality Appendix A Participation in Governmental Politics: Data Sources Appendix B Participation in Electoral Politics: Data Sources Appendix C Participation in Governmental Politics: Tables Appendix D Participation in Electoral Politics: Tables Appendix E Mobilization and Participation in Electoral Politics: Tables

2,973 citations


"Absentee voting, mobilization, and ..." refers background or methods in this paper

  • ...To measure mobilization, we use whether respondents report having been contacted by anyone about registering to vote or getting out to vote (see Rosenstone & Hansen, 1993).1 This question has been asked in the past seven NESs....

    [...]

  • ...One might interpret this result as evidence for mobilization, because the politically active are targeted usually by political parties (Rosenstone & Hansen, 1993, pp. 163-169)....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI
TL;DR: In this paper, the authors reinterpret the voting calculus so that it can fit comfortably into a rationalistic theory of political behavior and present empirical evidence that citizens actually behave as if they employed this calculus.
Abstract: Much recent theorizing about the utility of voting concludes that voting is an irrational act in that it usually costs more to vote than one can expect to get in return.1 This conclusion is doubtless disconcerting ideologically to democrats; but ideological embarrassment is not our interest here. Rather we are concerned with an apparent paradox in the theory. The writers who constructed these analyses were engaged in an endeavor to explain political behavior with a calculus of rational choice; yet they were led by their argument to the conclusion that voting, the fundamental political act, is typically irrational. We find this conflict between purpose and conclusion bizarre but not nearly so bizarre as a non-explanatory theory: The function of theory is to explain behavior and it is certainly no explanation to assign a sizeable part of politics to the mysterious and inexplicable world of the irrational.2 This essay is, therefore, an effort to reinterpret the voting calculus so that it can fit comfortably into a rationalistic theory of political behavior. We describe a calculus of voting from which one infers that it is reasonable for those who vote to do so and also that it is equally reasonable for those who do not vote not to do so. Furthermore we present empirical evidence that citizens actually behave as if they employed this calculus.3

2,241 citations


"Absentee voting, mobilization, and ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Because theoretical models of voting typically characterize the decision to vote as a function of collective and individual benefits weighed against the cost of voting (Downs, 1957; Riker & Ordeshook, 1968), lowering the costs of voting is seen as one way of increasing turnout....

    [...]

Book
01 Jan 1992
TL;DR: Teixeira et al. as discussed by the authors argue that while it is unlikely U.S. voter turnout will ever approach levels in Sweden, Australia, and Belgium with a thorough reform program, levels of around 70 percent, such as those in Japan and Canada, may be attainable.
Abstract: The right to vote is the cornerstone of democracy. To millions around the world who have fought for that right, it is considered a privilege. Yet the magnitude of nonvoting in America is staggering. More than 91 million Americans did not vote in 1988, putting voter turnout at barely half of the voting-age population. This situation has stirred much comment and debate across the political spectrum, raising several questions: Why is voter turnout generally so low? Why has it declined steadily over the past three decades? Does low and declining turnout significantly bias the nature of contemporary U.S. politics? And what, if anything, can be done to increase voter participation? In this book, Ruy Teixeira addresses each of these question in detail in an effort to provide policymakers and the general public with a clearer view of the problem and possible solutions. The author's interpretations and recommendations are both provocative and firmly based on currently available data. Teixeira includes an assessment of current registration reform legislation and shows why a combination of registration reform and political reform is necessary to fully reverse the nonvoting trend and move to substantially higher turnout levels. He points out that while it is unlikely U.S. voter turnout will ever approach levels in Sweden, Australia, and Belgium --which are about 90 percent --with a thorough reform program, levels of around 70 percent, such as those in Japan and Canada, may be attainable.

536 citations


"Absentee voting, mobilization, and ..." refers background in this paper

  • ...Empirical examinations of low turnout have focused on the various costs of voting (Piven & Cloward, 1988; Teixeira, 1992; Wolfinger & Rosenstone, 1980)....

    [...]

Journal ArticleDOI

501 citations


"Absentee voting, mobilization, and ..." refers result in this paper

  • ...This is consistent with the voting-behavior literature that finds that persons possessing these characteristics are more likely to have made their minds up early in a campaign (Converse, 1962; Finkel, 1993)....

    [...]

Frequently Asked Questions (1)
Q1. What are the contributions in "Absentee voting, mobilization, and participation" ?

In this paper, the authors test the hypothesis that persons who choose to vote early are already highly motivated to participate in the political process.