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Who Votes Now?Demographics, Issues, Inequality, and Turnout in the United States$
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Jan E. Leighley and Jonathan Nagler

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691159348

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691159348.001.0001

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The Legal Context of Turnout

The Legal Context of Turnout

Voter Registration and Voting Innovations

(p.90) Four The Legal Context of Turnout
Who Votes Now?

Jan E. Leighley

Jonathan Nagler

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the electoral impact the new, wider array of voter registration and election administration laws using a new data set collected on state electoral rules between 1972 and 2008. States vary tremendously as to how easy it is to register and to vote, and previous research suggests that these laws affect who votes because they change the cost of voting. However, most of these studies rely on cross-sectional data, and usually consider the influence of one reform at a time. The chapter provides aggregate (state-level) analyses of the effects of changes in these rules on voter turnout. These analyses help us address the question of whether overall voter turnout has increased as a result of these legal changes. It finds modest effects of election day registration, of absentee voting, and of moving the closing date for registration closer to the election on overall turnout. The effect of early voting is less clear.

Keywords:   election laws, voter registration laws, U.S. presidential elections, voter behavior, voter turnout, state electoral rules, absentee voting

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