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Driving Saints to Sin: How Increasing the Difficulty of Voting Dissuades Even the Most Motivated Voters


  • McNulty, John E.
  • Dowling, Conor M.
  • Ariotti, Margaret H.


The consolidation of polling places in the Vestal Central School District in New York State during the district's 2006 budget referendum provides a naturalistic setting to study the effects of polling consolidation on voter turnout on an electorate quite distinct from previous work by Brady and McNulty (2004, The costs of voting: Evidence from a natural experiment. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Political Methodology, Palo Alto, CA). In particular, voters in local elections are highly motivated and therefore might be thought to be less affected by poll consolidation. Nevertheless, through a matching analysis we find that polling consolidation decreases voter turnout substantially, by about seven percentage points, even among this electorate, suggesting that even habitual voters can be dissuaded from going to the polls. This finding has implications for how election administrators ought to handle cost-cutting measures like consolidation.

Suggested Citation

  • McNulty, John E. & Dowling, Conor M. & Ariotti, Margaret H., 2009. "Driving Saints to Sin: How Increasing the Difficulty of Voting Dissuades Even the Most Motivated Voters," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 17(4), pages 435-455.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:polals:v:17:y:2009:i:04:p:435-455_01

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    Cited by:

    1. Christine Fauvelle-Aymar & Abel Fran├žois, 2018. "Place of registration and place of residence: the non-linear detrimental impact of transportation cost on electoral participation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 176(3), pages 405-440, September.
    2. John Gibson & Bonggeun Kim & Steven Stillman & Geua Boe-Gibson, 2013. "Time to vote?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 156(3), pages 517-536, September.

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