The Effects of Voter ID Notification on Voter Turnout: Results from a Large-Scale Field Experiment

Last registered on May 19, 2016

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
The Effects of Voter ID Notification on Voter Turnout: Results from a Large-Scale Field Experiment
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0001238
Initial registration date
May 19, 2016

Initial registration date is when the trial was registered.

It corresponds to when the registration was submitted to the Registry to be reviewed for publication.

First published
May 19, 2016, 8:26 AM EDT

First published corresponds to when the trial was first made public on the Registry after being reviewed.

Locations

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
Columbia University

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
University of Southern California
PI Affiliation
Professor of Political Science, University of California Berkeley

Additional Trial Information

Status
Completed
Start date
2012-01-01
End date
2013-02-28
Secondary IDs
EGAP 20121026AA
Abstract
State voter identification (ID) laws have proliferated in the past ten years. Political campaigns remain divided about whether and how to address identification requirements when encouraging voter turnout. This article reports results from a direct mail get-out-the-vote (GOTV) experiment, conducted during the run-up to the 2012 general election in counties along the Tennessee-Virginia border and in heavily African American precincts in Roanoke and Knoxville. Results indicate that informing low-propensity voters of a new identification requirement raises turnout by approximately one percentage point. Messages providing details about ID requirements and offering to help recipients obtain acceptable ID appear somewhat more effective than messages only pointing out the need to bring proof of identification. These mailings, which have similar effects in both states, also appear to raise turnout among others in the recipients’ households. Overall, we find no evidence that calling attention to voter identification requirements dissuades voters from voting.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Green, Donald, Citrin Jack and Levy Morris. 2016. "The Effects of Voter ID Notification on Voter Turnout: Results from a Large-Scale Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. May 19. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.1238
Former Citation
Green, Donald, Citrin Jack and Levy Morris. 2016. "The Effects of Voter ID Notification on Voter Turnout: Results from a Large-Scale Field Experiment." AEA RCT Registry. May 19. https://www.socialscienceregistry.org/trials/1238/history/8351
Sponsors & Partners

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Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Sample participants are drawn from counties along the Tennessee-Virginia border and heavily African American precincts in Roanoke City, Virginia and Knoxville, Tennessee. The experiment compares voter turnout in an untreated control group to randomly assigned groups that received one of three mailings: (1) a simple reminder to vote on Election Day (‘‘Reminder’’), (2) a terse warning that voters are required to show identification at the polls (‘‘Warning’’), and (3) a message that both warns of the need for ID and also provides help in the form of information about which identification documents are required and how voters can obtain help in acquiring them (‘‘Help’’).
Intervention Start Date
2012-10-23
Intervention End Date
2012-10-26

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
Voter turnout
Primary Outcomes (explanation)
Voter turnout information was collected from registrars in each of the sampled Virginia and Tennessee jurisdictions.

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
The experiment was conducted in Tennessee (TN) and Virginia (VA) during the 2012 general elections. Sample jurisdictions were selected from ten counties along the TN-VN border and from Roanoke City, (VA) and Knoxville (TN) stratified by state. Registered voter lists for these 12 counties were obtained and those who had voted in the 2008 and 2010 elections were excluded. One member of each household of the remaining voters was then selected at random to be a study participant. Extra steps were taken to include African American voters in Roanoke City and Knoxville by including only voters residing in areas with zip codes that the Census showed as heavily African American.

All selected voters were screened by the National Change of Address and those that passed were assigned a random number. Within each stratum, the first 11% of the randomly ordered registered voters were assigned to a ‘‘Reminder’’ treatment, 22% each to the ‘‘Warning’’ and ‘‘Help’’ treatments, and the remaining 45% to a control condition (no mailing). Treatments groups received postcards on behalf of the non-partisan League of Women Voters containing the assigned treatment message.
Experimental Design Details
Randomization Method
Stratified random sampling
Randomization Unit
Individual voters
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Study not clustered
Sample size: planned number of observations
45,408 voters
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
Control: 39.95%
Reminder: 40.08%
Warning: 40.92%
Help: 41.8%
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
Supporting Documents and Materials

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IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
UC Berkeley
IRB Approval Date
2012-10-01
IRB Approval Number
2012-10-4699

Post-Trial

Post Trial Information

Study Withdrawal

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Intervention

Is the intervention completed?
Yes
Intervention Completion Date
October 26, 2012, 12:00 +00:00
Data Collection Complete
Yes
Data Collection Completion Date
February 28, 2013, 12:00 +00:00
Final Sample Size: Number of Clusters (Unit of Randomization)
Study not clustered
Was attrition correlated with treatment status?
Final Sample Size: Total Number of Observations
34,576 voters
Final Sample Size (or Number of Clusters) by Treatment Arms
Data Publication

Data Publication

Is public data available?
No

Program Files

Program Files
Reports, Papers & Other Materials

Relevant Paper(s)

Abstract
THE EFFECTS OF VOTER ID NOTIFICATION ON VOTER TURNOUT: RESULTS FROM A LARGE-SCALE FIELD EXPERIMENT

State voter identification (ID) laws have proliferated in the past ten years. Political campaigns remain divided about whether and how to address identification requirements when encouraging voter turnout. This article reports results from a direct mail get-out-the-vote (GOTV) experiment, conducted during the run-up to the 2012 general election in counties along the Tennessee-Virginia border and in heavily African American precincts in Roanoke and Knoxville. Results indicate that informing low-propensity voters of a new identification requirement raises turnout by approximately one percentage point. Messages providing details about ID requirements and offering to help recipients obtain acceptable ID appear somewhat more effective than messages only pointing out the need to bring proof of identification. These mailings, which have similar effects in both states, also appear to raise turnout among others in the recipients’ households. Overall, we find no evidence that calling attention to voter identification requirements dissuades voters from voting.
Citation
Citrin, Jack, Donald Green, and Morris Levy. 2014. "The Effects of Voter ID Notification on Voter Turnout: Results from a Large-Scale Field Experiment." Election Law Journal 13(2): 228-242.

Reports & Other Materials