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Discount Voting
Cambridge University Press
9780521112659 - Discount Voting - Voter Registration Reforms and Their Effects - By MICHAEL J. HANMER

Discount Voting: Voter Registration Reforms and Their Effects

In the United States, there is wide variation from state to state in the institutional arrangements – for example, registration laws – that structure the environment in which citizens decide whether to vote and parties decide whom to mobilize. This has important consequences for who gets elected and the policies they enact. Michael J. Hanmer argues that to understand how these institutional arrangements affect outcomes, it is necessary to consider the interactions between social and political contexts and these laws. He tests this theory by examining how the factors that influence the adoption of a set of registration laws affect turnout, the composition of the electorate, and party strategies. His multi-method research design demonstrates that the effect of registration laws is not as profound as either reformers would hope or previous studies suggest, especially when reform is a response to federal legislation. He concludes by arguing for a shift in the approach to increasing turnout.

Michael J. Hanmer joined the Department of Government and Politics at the University of Maryland as an assistant professor in the fall of 2007. He is also a Research Fellow with the University of Maryland – Center for American Politics and Citizenship. Hanmer is a co-author of Voting Technology: The Not-So-Simple Act of Casting a Ballot (2008). He has published articles on electoral reform, voting technology, and the overreporting of voting in surveys and is listed as an expert in election issues by the AEI–Brookings Election Reform Project.

Discount Voting

Voter Registration Reforms and Their Effects


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Information on this title:

© Michael J. Hanmer 2009

This publication is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2009

Printed in the United States of America

A catalog record for this publication is available from the British Library.

Library of Congress Cataloging in Publication dataHanmer, Michael J., 1972–Discount voting : voter registration reforms and their effects /Michael J. Hanmer.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and index.ISBN 978-0-521-11265-9 (hardback)1. Voter registration – United States. 2. Voting – United States. I. Title.JK2160.H36 2009324.6′40973 – dc22 2009011762

ISBN 978-0-521-11265-9 Hardback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs for external or third-party Internet Web sites referred to in this publication and does not guarantee that any content on such Web sites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

To the memory of my father, Frank Hanmer.


1.            Motivation and a New Theoretical Framework
2.            The Purposeful Adoption of Election Day Registration
3.            Election Day Registration by Choice and by Federal Mandate
4.            Motor Voter by Choice and by Federal Mandate
5.            Registration and Voting in the Post-NVRA Era
6.            Election Reform and the Composition of the Electorate
7.            EDR on the Ground and Prospects for the Future
A.            Variable Coding
B.            Census Data Related to Chapter 3
C.            Maine and EDR
D.            D. Census Data Related to Chapter 4
E.            Models Associated with Results in Chapters 3 and 4
F.            Bootstrapped Confidence Intervals
G.            Testing the Probit Assumptions
H.            State Party Leader and State Election Official Survey Instruments


This project benefited from the support, advice, and encouragement of numerous people and organizations. I am sure that these words cannot properly articulate how deeply grateful I am – but I will do my best.

My graduate school advisors, Chris Achen and Mike Traugott, are outstanding role models and mentors. They had faith in my abilities and each, in his own way, challenged me to do things I was not sure I could do; to me, this is the most important thing teachers and advisors can do for their students. I am also deeply grateful for the opportunities they have given me to collaborate with them and for their continued advice and encouragement. Although Chris was at Princeton as I finished up at Michigan, I appreciate the fact that he always made himself available. I can never repay Chris and Mike for what they have given to me; however, I strive to be as good a mentor to my students as they have been to me. Vince Hutchings was the first person to welcome me to Michigan after I was admitted. At every step of my career he has been able to provide the wisdom of an experienced scholar with recognition of what it was like to be in my place. Vince gave generously of his time; even when he was on leave or out of town he made time for meetings, calls, and defenses. Liz Gerber pushed me to think harder and more broadly about the contributions of this project. She raised the bar and challenged me to get over it. I benefited enormously from her guidance. I admire each of my committee members, both professionally and personally. For as bright, talented, and successful as they each are, they are equally down to earth. I have thoroughly enjoyed our conversations about political science as well as those about hockey, rattlesnake races, chicken wings, and parenthood, to note a few.

Over the years I have had the good fortune to get support and advice from a number of great friends and colleagues. Matt Beckmann pushed me to think, write, and argue more clearly. His calm approach to the world also helped me keep things in perspective. When I considered cutting interviews from the research design, Corrine McConnaughy convinced me to keep what turned out to be my favorite part of the project. My frequent conversations on methodological issues with Sean Ehrlich and Won-ho Park provided sound checks on my intuition and pushed me to learn more. For reading early drafts of papers that ultimately became part of this book, engaging in helpful discussions, and/or providing advice on publishing, I thank Jaison Able, Scott Allard, Mike Bailey, Adam Berinsky, Marc Busch, Raj Desai, Brian Duff, Laura Evans, Marc Howard, Jim Janicki, Ozan Kalkan, Cindy Kam, Mike Kimaid, Brian Knight, Jon Ladd, Hans Noel, Irfan Nooruddin, Anders Olofsgard, Clint Peinhart, Tasha Philpot, Chris Seplaki, George Shambaugh, Joe Smith, Michele Swers, Ismail White, and Clyde Wilcox.

I owe special thanks to Jocelyn Mitchell, who read and commented on numerous drafts of the manuscript. The project benefited enormously from her advice. My thoughts on substantive matters crystallized due to our conversations, and my ability to communicate my ideas and findings to others has improved significantly.

Paul Herrnson and Dick Niemi played important roles in helping me transition into the profession. From our several other projects, I gained invaluable experience that improved my work. In addition to reading and commenting on drafts, they have shown unwavering support and have always been available to give advice on everything and anything.

At the University of Maryland, I have had access to resources and colleagues that helped propel this project to completion. Mark Lichbach was generous and flexible in granting me time off to prepare the book for submission, and once it was accepted to make the final revisions. I benefited tremendously from advice provided by Karen Kaufmann, Geoff Layman, and Ric Uslaner. Ric also read the entire manuscript before I sent it for review and helped me make important publishing contacts. In addition to those previously mentioned, Hannah Birnir, Jim Gimpel, Frances Lee, Wayne McIntosh, and Irwin Morris engaged in helpful discussions on the publishing process.

I would also like to thank the anonymous reviewers of the manuscript, who provided constructive criticisms that led to a number of important revisions.

I am grateful to Jon Hurwitz and Mark Peffley, editors of Political Behavior, Springer, and the anonymous reviewers of “An Alternative Approach to Estimating Who Is Most Likely to Respond to Changes in Registration Laws,” portions of which appear in this book.

© Cambridge University Press
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