CUREJ - College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal

Zooming Past Motor-Voter: An Analysis of How Automatic Voter Registration Policies Impact Voter Turnout in the United States

Ketaki Gujar, University of Pennsylvania

Division: Social Sciences

Dept/Program: Political Science

Document Type: Undergraduate Student Research

Mentor(s): Marc Meredith

Date of this Version: 01 April 2020

 

Abstract

In the 1990s, the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) mandated that motor vehicle agencies process voter registration applications in a policy known as motor-voter. From motor- voter emerged automatic voter registration, or AVR, wherein eligible voters are registered to vote automatically from a transaction with certain state-designated agencies. In 2016, Oregon became the first state to implement an automatic voter registration policy, though a number of states have since followed. In this paper, I analyze the impact of AVR on rates of voter turnout and rates of voter registration, making this paper among the first to identify the effect of automatic voter registration on voter turnout. Using difference-in-difference models, I compare changes in turnout by age, race, and state partisan control for the states that have implemented AVR policies to changes in turnout by age, race, and state partisan control for the states that have not adopted AVR policies. I also compare changes in registration for the states that have implemented AVR policies to changes in registration for the states that have not adopted AVR policies. Using data from the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 Election Administration and Voting Surveys as well as data from the 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018 Current Population Survey’s Voting and Registration Supplements, I find AVR to have a small but positive impact on overall rates of voter registration and voter turnout. This study has implications for states pondering the adoption of automatic voter registration policies and adds to the body of literature examining the impact of electoral reforms on voter turnout.

Discipline(s)

American Politics | Political Science | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Suggested Citation

Gujar, Ketaki, "Zooming Past Motor-Voter: An Analysis of How Automatic Voter Registration Policies Impact Voter Turnout in the United States" 01 April 2020. CUREJ: College Undergraduate Research Electronic Journal, University of Pennsylvania, https://repository.upenn.edu/curej/243.

Date Posted: 10 June 2020

 

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