You are here

Get Out the Vote-by-Mail? A Randomized Field Experiment Testing the Effect of Mobilization in Traditional and Vote-by-Mail Precincts

December 2012

Kevin Arceneaux, Thad Kousser, Megan Mullin


Taking advantage of voting rules in San Diego, an experiment was devised to test door-to-door canvassing effects on traditional voting compared to precincts that solely use mail-in ballots. The results concluded that door-to-door campaigns are more effective in traditional precincts relative to precincts that utilize mail-in ballots. However, this differential is only present amongst voters whose behavior is more likely to be shaped by extrinsic social voting rewards, such as gaining an improved social standing from voting, or the belief that your community wants you to vote.

Read Now

Policy Implications

This conclusion carries an important implication for voting policy. When changing the mechanism with which a district votes, it will be important to first consider the effects this may have on voter turnout. Further, when expanding the “get out the vote” effort, attention must be paid to the district’s voting methods to discern which efforts will be more effective than others.

Find Similar General/Not Specific Research
Find Similar Government Operations Research