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No Surprises, Please: Voting Costs and Electoral Turnout

Jean-Victor Alipour and Valentin Lindlacher

No 9759, CESifo Working Paper Series from CESifo

Abstract: We study how seemingly benign changes to voting costs affect electoral turnout, exploiting plausibly exogenous variation in the assignment of polling places in Munich (Germany). Using an event study design, we find that polling place relocations cause a persistent shift from in-person to mail-in voting and a transitory drop in overall turnout by 0.4–0.6 percentage points (0.7–1.0 percent). The findings are consistent with inattention to relocations, inducing some individuals to forgo voting today and turn to mail-in voting in ensuing elections. The drop in participation is stronger in precincts with a higher fraction of elderly voters and where reassignments caused a greater distance to the polling location, highlighting the importance of offering mail-in voting and informing citizens of reassignments to compensate for votes lost at the polls.

Keywords: elections; voter turnout; election administration; inattention; polling places (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D73 D83 R41 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2022
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm, nep-pol and nep-ure
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