Gerber, Alan S., Gregory A. Huber, Albert H. Fang, Catlan E. Reardon (2017). The Effect on Turnout of Campaign Mobilization Messages Addressing Ballot Secrecy Concerns: A Replication Experiment. PLoS ONE, 12(8):e0182199. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0182199
Given the persistence of public doubts about the integrity of ballot secrecy, which depress turnout, two prior experiments have shown precise evidence that both official governmental and unofficial mobilization campaigns providing assurances about ballot secrecy increase turnout among recently registered nonvoters. To assess whether these findings replicate in other political settings, we describe a replication experiment where a non-governmental, non-partisan mobilization campaign sent similar treatment mailings containing assurances about ballot secrecy protections to recently registered nonvoters during the 2014 general election in Mississippi. We find that sending this mailer has no effect on turnout rates in this setting, which is characterized by an unusually low baseline turnout rate. These results are consistent with past research concluding that nonpartisan Get Out The Vote (GOTV) mail has very weak effects among very low turnout propensity registrants, and suggest that there are heterogeneous effects of ballot secrecy treatments associated with subjects’ characteristics and the electoral context.
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