Making Young Voters: The Impact of Preregistration on Youth Turnout

Authors

Errata

This article is corrected by:

  1. Errata: Erratum to Making Young Voters: The Impact of Preregistration on Youth Turnout Volume 61, Issue 2, 505–507, Article first published online: 23 January 2017

  • We wish to thank the National Science Foundation (Grant #SES-1416816) for their generous support for this project. In addition, we wish to thank Barry C. Burden, Michael McDonald, Steven A. Snell, and three anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback. Finally, we wish to thank Matthew Tyler for his invaluable work as a research assistant. Data and code for replicating our results can be found in the AJPS Data Archive on Dataverse (http://dvn.iq.harvard.edu/dvn/dv/ajps).

Abstract

Recent research has cast doubt on the potential for various electoral reforms to increase voter turnout. In this article, we examine the effectiveness of preregistration laws, which allow young citizens to register before being eligible to vote. We use two empirical approaches to evaluate the impact of preregistration on youth turnout. First, we implement difference-in-difference and lag models to bracket the causal effect of preregistration implementation using the 2000–2012 Current Population Survey. Second, focusing on the state of Florida, we leverage a discontinuity based on date of birth to estimate the effect of increased preregistration exposure on the turnout of young registrants. In both approaches, we find preregistration increases voter turnout, with equal effectiveness for various subgroups in the electorate. More broadly, observed patterns suggest that campaign context and supporting institutions may help to determine when and if electoral reforms are effective.

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