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U.S. State Election Reform and Turnout in Presidential Elections

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 January 2021

Roger Larocca*
Oakland University, Rochester, MI, USA
John S. Klemanski
Oakland University, Rochester, MI, USA
Roger Larocca, Oakland University, Department of Political Science, 422 Varner Hall, Rochester, MI 48309, USA Email:


We explore the effects of state-level election reforms on voter turnout in the 2000, 2004, and 2008 presidential elections. Using a cost-benefit model of political participation, we develop a framework for analyzing the burdens imposed by the following: universal mail voting, permanent no-excuse absentee voting, nonpermanent no-excuse absentee voting, early in-person voting, Election Day registration, and voter identification requirements. We analyze turnout data from the 2000, 2004, and 2008 Current Population Surveys and show that implementation by states of both forms of no-excuse absentee voting and Election Day registration has a positive and significant affect on turnout in each election. We find positive but less consistent effects on turnout for universal mail voting and voter identification requirements. Our results also show that early in-person voting has a negative and statistically significant correlation with turnout in all three elections.

Research Article
Copyright © The Author(s) 2011

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