Non-Coercive Mobilization in State-Controlled Elections: An Experimental Study in Beijing


Mei Guan, Donald P. Green

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Guan, Mei & Donald P. Green (2006) "Non-Coercive Mobilization in State-Controlled Elections: An Experimental Study in Beijing." Comparative Political Studies 39(10):1175-1193.
China has gradually introduced a limited degree of democratization to its system of local governance, permitting self-nominated candidates for People’s Congress to campaign on their own behalf. Liberalization of elections has also meant that voters are less likely to be coerced into voting by their work groups. What are the likely consequences of liberalization for voter turnout rates in the future? The authors examine the effects of a noncoercive get-out-the-vote drive in one of the most highly liberalized electoral districts in China. A field experiment was conducted in a Peking University precinct during the 2003 election. Thousands of student voters were randomly assigned to control and treatment groups, the latter receiving encouragement to participate through door-to-door canvassing. These noncoercive mobilization efforts are found to be highly effective in raising voter turnout, suggesting that tactics used in open electoral systems may buoy voter turnout rates even as coercive mobilization tactics disappear.
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