Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Experiments to Reduce the Over-Reporting of Voting: A Pipeline to the Truth

  • Michael J. Hanmer (a1), Antoine J. Banks (a2) and Ismail K. White (a3)
Abstract

Voting is a fundamental part of any democratic society. But survey-based measures of voting are problematic because a substantial proportion of nonvoters report that they voted. This over-reporting has consequences for our understanding of voting as well as the behaviors and attitudes associated with voting. Relying on the “bogus pipeline” approach, we investigate whether altering the wording of the turnout question can cause respondents to provide more accurate responses. We attempt to reduce over-reporting simply by changing the wording of the vote question by highlighting to the respondent that: (1) we can in fact find out, via public records, whether or not they voted; and (2) we (survey administrators) know some people who say they voted did not. We examine these questions through a survey on US voting-age citizens after the 2010 midterm elections, in which we ask them about voting in those elections. Our evidence shows that the question noting we would check the records improved the accuracy of the reports by reducing the over-reporting of turnout.

    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      Experiments to Reduce the Over-Reporting of Voting: A Pipeline to the Truth
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      Experiments to Reduce the Over-Reporting of Voting: A Pipeline to the Truth
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      Experiments to Reduce the Over-Reporting of Voting: A Pipeline to the Truth
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
e-mail: mhanmer@umd.edu (corresponding author)
Footnotes
Hide All

Authors' note: For helpful comments, we thank Fred Conrad, Jenna Fulton, Christina Heshmatpour, Karen Kaufmann, Vince Hutchings, Roger Tourangeau, Candace Turrito, Nick Valentino, and Eric Wish and his staff at the Center for Substance Abuse Research (CESAR) at the University of Maryland. We also thank the TESS PIs, reviewers, and staff. Supplementary materials for this article are available on the Political Analysis Web site. For replication data see Hanmer, Banks, and White 2013.

Footnotes
References
Hide All
Abelson, Robert P., Loftus, Elizabeth F., and Greenwald, Anthony G. 1992. Attempts to improve the accuracy of self-reports of voting. In Questions about questions, ed. Tanur, Judith M., 138–53. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.
Achen, Christopher H. 1982. Interpreting and using regression. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage Publications.
Alvarez, R. Michael, Hall, Thad E., and Llewellyn, Morgan H. 2008. Are Americans confident their ballots are counted? Journal of Politics 70: 754–66.
Ansolabehere, Stephen, and Hersh, Eitan. 2012. Validation: What big data reveal about survey misreporting and the real electorate. Political Analysis 20: 437–59.
Belli, Robert F., Moore, Sean E., and VanHoewyk, John. 2006. An experimental comparison of question forms used to reduce vote overreporting. Electoral Studies 25: 751–59.
Belli, Robert F., Traugott, Santa, and Rosenstone, Steven J. 1994. Reducing over-reporting of voter turnout: An experiment using a source monitoring framework. NES Technical Reports Number 35 (see available technical reports at http://www.umich.edu/∼nes/~.
Belli, Robert F., Traugott, Michael W., Young, Margaret, and McGonagle, Katherine A. 1999. Reducing vote overreporting in surveys: Social desirability, memory failure, and source monitoring. Public Opinion Quarterly 63: 90108.
Belli, Robert F., Traugott, Michael W., and Beckmann, Matthew N. 2001. What leads to voting overreports? Contrasts of overreporters to validated voters and admitted nonvoters in the American National Election Studies. Journal of Official Statistics 17(4): 479–98.
Berinsky, Adam J. 2005. The perverse consequences of electoral reform in the United States. American Politics Research 33: 471–91.
Bernstein, Robert, Chadha, Anita, and Montjoy, Robert. 2001. Overreporting voting: Why it happens and why it matters. Public Opinion Quarterly 65: 2244.
Brenner, Philip S. 2011. Identity importance and the overreporting of religious attendance: Multiple imputation of religious attendance using the American Time Use Study and General Social Survey. Journal of the Scientific Study of Religion 50: 103–15.
Burden, Barry C. 2000. Voter turnout and the National Elections Studies. Political Analysis 8: 389–98.
Burden, Barry C. 2003. Internal and external effects on the accuracy of NES turnout: Reply. Political Analysis 11: 193–95.
Cassel, Carol A. Overreporting and electoral participation research. American Politics Research 31: 8192.
Carsey, Thomas M., and Jackson, Robert A. 2001. Misreport of vote choice in U.S. Senate and gubernatorial elections. State Politics and Policy Quarterly 1: 196209.
Clark, John P., and Tifft, Larry L. 1966. Polygraph and interview validation of self-reported deviant behavior. American Sociological Review 31: 516–23.
Clausen, Aage. 1968. Response validity: Vote report. Public Opinion Quarterly 32: 588606.
Corstange, Daniel. 2009. Sensitive questions, truthful answers? Modeling the list experiment with LISTIT. Political Analysis 17: 4563.
Deufel, Benjamin J., and Kedar, Orit. 2010. Race and turnout in U.S. elections: Exposing hidden effects. Public Opinion Quarterly 74: 286318.
Duff, Brian, Hanmer, Michael J., Park, Won-ho, and White, Ismail K. 2007. Good excuses: Understanding who votes with an improved turnout question. Public Opinion Quarterly 71: 6790.
Hill, Kim Quaile, and Hurley, Patricia A. 1984. Nonvoters in voters' clothing: The impact of voting behavior misreporting on voting behavior research. Social Science Quarterly 65: 199206.
Hanmer, Michael J., Banks, Antoine J., and White, Ismail K. 2013. Replication data for: Experiments to reduce the over-reporting of voting: A pipeline to the truth. http://dx.doi.org/10.7910/DVN/22893UNF:5:eJOVAjDU0E0jzSQ2bRCg9g==IQSS Dataverse Network [Distributor] V1 [Version] (accessed October 15, 2013).
Holbrook, Allyson L., and Krosnick, Jon A. 2010. Social desirability bias in voter turnout reports: Tests using the item count technique. Public Opinion Quarterly 74: 3767.
Jones, Edward E., and Sigall, Harold. 1971. The bogus pipeline: A new paradigm for measuring affect and attitude. Psychological Bulletin 76: 349–64.
Karp, Jeffrey A., and Brockington, David. 2005. Social desirability and response validity: A comparative analysis of overreporting voter turnout in five countries. Journal of Politics 67: 825–40.
Kinder, Donald R., and Palfrey, Thomas R. 1993. On behalf of an experimental political science. In Experimental foundations of political science, eds. Kinder, Donald R. and Palfrey, Thomas R. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
McDonald, Michael P. 2003. On the over-report bias of the National Election Survey. Political Analysis 11: 180–86.
Martinez, Michael D. 2003. Comment on “Voter turnout and the National Election Studies.” Political Analysis 11: 187–92.
Presser, Stanley. 1990. Can context changes reduce vote over-reporting? Public Opinion Quarterly 54: 586–93.
Saxe, Leonard. 1991. Lying: Thoughts of an applied psychologist. American Psychologist 46: 409–15.
Schuessler, Alexander A. 2000. A logic of expressive choice. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Schwarz, Norbert. 1996. Cognition and communication: Judgement biases, research methods, and the logic of conversion. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Silver, Brian D., Anderson, Barbara A., and Abramson, Paul R. 1986. Who overreports voting? American Political Science Review 80: 613–24.
Stryker, Sheldon, and Serpe, Richard T. 1994. Identity salience and psychological centrality: Equivalent, overlapping, or complementary concepts? Social Psychology Quarterly 57: 1635.
Tourangeau, Roger, and Yan, Ting. 2007. Sensitive questions in surveys. Psychological Bulletin 133: 859–83.
Tourangeau, Roger, Smith, Tom W., and Rasinski, Kenneth A. 1997. Motivation to report sensitive behaviors on surveys: Evidence from a bogus pipeline experiment. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 27: 209–22.
Traugott, Michael W., and Katosh, John P. 1979. Response validity in surveys of voting behavior. Public Opinion Quarterly 43: 359–77.
Weir, Blair T. 1975. The distortion of voter recall. American Journal of Political Science 19: 5362.
Wish, Eric D., Gray, Thomas, Sushinsky, Jonathan, Yacoubian, George S. Jr., and Fitzgerald, Nora. 2000. An experiment to enhance the reporting of drug use by arrestees. Journal of Drug Issues 30: 5576.
Wright, Gerald C. 1993. Errors in measuring vote choice in the National Election Studies, 1952–88. American Journal of Political Science 37: 291316.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Political Analysis
  • ISSN: 1047-1987
  • EISSN: 1476-4989
  • URL: /core/journals/political-analysis
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×
MathJax
Type Description Title
WORD
Supplementary materials

Hanmer et al. supplementary material
Appendix

 Word (149 KB)
149 KB

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed