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Bennion & Nickerson on the Cost of Convenience and Voter Registration (Political Research Quarterly)
A recent article, “The Cost of Convenience: An Experiment Showing E-Mail Outreach Decreases Voter Registration,” by Elizabeth Bennion (Indiana University) and David Nickerson (Notre Dame) appeard in the December issue of Political Research Quarterly.
Abstract: Lower transaction costs have shifted voter registration activities online and away from traditional modes of outreach. Downloading forms may impose higher transaction costs than traditional outreach for some people and thereby decrease electoral participation. A randomized, controlled experiment tested this hypothesis by encouraging treatment participants via e-mail to use online voter registration tools. The treatment group was 0.3 percentage points less likely to be registered to vote after the election. A follow-up experiment sent reminders via text message to randomly selected people who had downloaded registration forms. The treatment increased rates of registration by 4 percentage points, suggesting that reminders can ameliorate many of the negative effects of directing people to downloadable online registration forms.