Text Message Mobilization of Young Voters

Last registered on January 11, 2022

Pre-Trial

Trial Information

General Information

Title
Text Message Mobilization of Young Voters
RCT ID
AEARCTR-0008790
Initial registration date
January 10, 2022

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
January 11, 2022, 9:13 AM EST

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

Locations

Region

Primary Investigator

Affiliation
University of Turku

Other Primary Investigator(s)

PI Affiliation
Prime Minister's Office (Finland)
PI Affiliation
University of Tampere
PI Affiliation
University of Turku

Additional Trial Information

Status
In development
Start date
2021-11-01
End date
2022-12-31
Secondary IDs
Prior work
This trial does not extend or rely on any prior RCTs.
Abstract
The aim of this randomised field trial is to study the causal effect of three different SMS voting reminders on turnout of young voters in upcoming Finnish county elections. The turnout has been noticeably low among youth voters compared to older age groups in Finland and thus it is important to explore cost effective means to mobilise the youth. The target population of this intervention is from 18 to 29 years old individuals who are eligible to vote, living in municipalities with an electronic voting registry (i.e. the turnout is registered at the individual level) and having a cellular phone number. The sample consists of four different randomised groups; Control Group which does not receive a reminder, Neutral Treatment Group which receives a neutral reminder on election dates and urges to vote, Expressive Treatment Group which receives an expressive reminder about the right to vote and Instrumental Treatment Group which receives an informative reminder about a possibility to have an influence on the public service provision by voting. All treatment groups will receive an SMS before the advance voting period and another before the election day. Potential heterogeneous effects by age, geographical area, previous voting participation and socioeconomic status will be estimated.
External Link(s)

Registration Citation

Citation
Hirvonen, Salomo et al. 2022. "Text Message Mobilization of Young Voters." AEA RCT Registry. January 11. https://doi.org/10.1257/rct.8790
Experimental Details

Interventions

Intervention(s)
Randomised SMS reminder to vote for youth voters.
Intervention Start Date
2022-01-11
Intervention End Date
2022-01-23

Primary Outcomes

Primary Outcomes (end points)
The primary outcome of this study is whether the individual voted (binary: Voted/Did Not Vote) in 2022 county elections. In addition to estimating potentially different effects by three different treatment types, we study heterogeneous effects by age, geographical area (at the municipality level), previous voting participation and socioeconomic status (education, income and profession).
Primary Outcomes (explanation)

Secondary Outcomes

Secondary Outcomes (end points)
Secondary Outcomes (explanation)

Experimental Design

Experimental Design
This field experiment consists of randomisation of young voters into three different SMS voting reminder treatment groups and into a control group. The target population of this study is eligible voters in Finnish 2022 county elections aged from 18 to 29 years old living in municipalities with an electronic voting registry, meaning that the outcome variable is available for these individuals. After combining information from the election registry and phone number availability from the ProFinder database, we are left with 51,104 individuals with a cellular phone number. We randomise these individuals into three different treatments (20% of the total sample in each treatment) and into the control group (40% of the total sample).

Three different treatment groups are: neutral treatment, expressive treatment and informative treatment. Each individual in a treatment group receives a voting reminder SMS a day before the start of the advance voting period and a day before the voting day. Below are the text messages which will be sent out for each treatment group (translated from Finnish):


1.a) Neutral Treatment, before the advance voting period

“Hi, a reminder for you that the county elections are held on the 23rd of January. The domestic advance voting period is from 12th of January until 18th of January. Read more vaalit.fi. Best Regards, the Ministry of Justice”

1.b) Neutral Treatment, before the election day

“Hi, a reminder for you that the county elections are held on the 23rd of January. Read more vaalit.fi. Best Regards, the Ministry of Justice”

2.a) Expressive Treatment, before the advance voting period

“Hi, a reminder for you to use your right to vote in the county elections on the 23rd of January. The domestic advance voting period is from 12th of January until 18th of January. Read more vaalit.fi. Best Regards, the Ministry of Justice”

2.b) Expressive Treatment, before the election day

“Hi, a reminder for you that the county elections are held on the 23rd of January. Democracy needs you so use your right to vote! Read more vaalit.fi. Best Regards, the Ministry of Justice”

3.a) Informative Treatment, before the advance voting period

“Hi, have an influence on the local public services in the county elections on the 23rd of January. The domestic advance voting period is from 12th of January until 18th of January. Read more vaalit.fi. Best Regards, the Ministry of Justice”

3.b) Expressive Treatment, before the election day

“Hi, a reminder for you that the county elections are held on the 23rd of January. You can have an influence on the local public social, health care and rescue services. Read more vaalit.fi. Best Regards, the Ministry of Justice”

After the election the outcome variable from the electronic voting registry is merged into treatment status and covariate data and pseudonymised by Statistics of Finland. We will use the Linear Probability Model as our main model for the ease of the interpretation of the coefficients but will also conduct analysis using logit and multilevel models as a robustness check. We will estimate potential heterogeneous effects by age, geographical area (at the municipality level), previous voting participation and socioeconomic status (education, income and profession). In addition to that we will examine possible spill over effects by using data on family links.
Experimental Design Details
Not available
Randomization Method
Individuals are randomly selected into three different treatments (20% of the total sample) and into the control group (40% of the total sample) using municipalities as blocks for the randomisation by using randtreat command in STATA 17 and allocating misfits in order to achieve (close to) overall balance in control and treatment group shares.
Randomization Unit
Individual eligible voter.
Was the treatment clustered?
No

Experiment Characteristics

Sample size: planned number of clusters
Not clustered.
Sample size: planned number of observations
Total sample size of 51,104 individual young voters.
Sample size (or number of clusters) by treatment arms
20% of the total sample size or approximately 10,221 individuals per treatment in total of three different treatments and 40% of the total sample size or approximately 20,441 individuals in the control group.
Minimum detectable effect size for main outcomes (accounting for sample design and clustering)
1.65 %-points for an individual treatment versus the control, 1.23 %-points for treatments pooled versus the control and 1.91 %-points for a treatment versus a treatment. Assuming p-value of 0.05, power of 0.8, and control group outcome as 0.38. Two-sided test for two sample proportions calculated by using power function in STATA 17.
IRB

Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)

IRB Name
Ethics Committee for Human Sciences at the University of Turku
IRB Approval Date
2021-11-24
IRB Approval Number
48/2021