Get Out the Vote by Mail? Evidence from a Natural/Field Experiment
28 Pages Posted: 14 May 2009
Date Written: May 13, 2009
Does the effectiveness of a “Get Out The Vote” (GOTV) contact depend upon the method by which a voter casts a ballot? This study investigates whether those who must vote by mail are more or less responsive to an in-person mobilization message than voters who live in traditional precincts with polling places. We combine a natural experiment designed to isolate the effects of voting by mail with a field experiment probing the impact of a door-to-door GOTV drive. Implementing this design in the November, 2008 general election in San Diego County, we hired professional canvassers to target a total of 29,717 randomly-assigned registered voters. Our preliminary results suggest that a personal GOTV contact has a larger effect on the participation of those who vote at polling places than it does on registrants assigned to vote by mail.
Keywords: field experiment, natural experiment, vote by mail
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