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Opening Hours of Polling Stations and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

Niklas Potrafke () and Felix Rösel ()
Authors registered in the RePEc Author Service: Felix Roesel ()

No 257, ifo Working Paper Series from ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich

Abstract: Voter turnout has declined in many countries, raising the question of whether electoral institutions increase voter turnout. We exploit an electoral reform in the Austrian state of Burgenland as a natural experiment to identify the causal effect of polling station opening hours on voter turnout. The results show that a 10 percent increase in opening hours increased voter turnout by some 0.5 to 0.9 percentage points. The reform also influenced party vote shares. The vote share of the conservative party decreased in the course of the reform, while the vote shares of the other three main parties increased. Conservative voters tend to have an especially strict sense of civic duty and would have participated in the election in any event. Simulations indicate that parliamentary majorities in previous elections would have changed under extended opening hours in favor of the social democratic party. The opening hours of polling stations probably play a more important role in political strategies than recognized to date.

Keywords: Voter turnout; party vote shares; opening hours of polling stations; causal effects; natural experiment; Austria. (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: D72 D02 Z18 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
New Economics Papers: this item is included in nep-cdm and nep-pol
Date: 2018
References: View references in EconPapers View complete reference list from CitEc
Citations: View citations in EconPapers (4) Track citations by RSS feed

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Working Paper: Opening Hours of Polling Stations and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment (2016) Downloads
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