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Voter turnout and the benefits of voting


  • John Filer
  • Lawrence Kenny


A model of voting behavior is developed that predicts that individuals vote if the absolute value of voting for or against a referendum exceeds the cost of voting. The results obtained from examining voting on city-county consolidation referenda and in New York state (1) provide support for the relatively untested prediction that turnout rises as the absolute value of the mean gains resulting from an electoral outcome increase and (2) augment the evidence that turnout rises as the probability of altering an electoral outcome increases and falls as the cost of voting rises. Copyright Martinus Nijhoff Publishers bv 1980

Suggested Citation

  • John Filer & Lawrence Kenny, 1980. "Voter turnout and the benefits of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 35(5), pages 575-585, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:35:y:1980:i:5:p:575-585
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00140087

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Filer, John E & Kenny, Lawrence W, 1980. "Voter Reaction to City-County Consolidation Referenda," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 23(1), pages 179-190, April.
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    Cited by:

    1. Luís Francisco Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2013. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," NIPE Working Papers 14/2013, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
    2. Song Xi Chen & Denis H. Y. Leung & Jing Qin, 2008. "Improving semiparametric estimation by using surrogate data," Journal of the Royal Statistical Society Series B, Royal Statistical Society, vol. 70(4), pages 803-823.
    3. J. Ferris & Soo-Bin Park & Stanley Winer, 2008. "Studying the role of political competition in the evolution of government size over long horizons," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 137(1), pages 369-401, October.
    4. Stanley Winer & Lawrence Kenny & Bernard Grofman, 2014. "Explaining variation in the competitiveness of U.S. Senate elections, 1922–2004," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 161(3), pages 471-497, December.
    5. Garmann, Sebastian, 2016. "Concurrent elections and turnout: Causal estimates from a German quasi-experiment," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 126(PA), pages 167-178.
    6. Christine Fauvelle-Aymar & Abel François, 2015. "Mobilization, cost of voting and turnout: a natural randomized experiment with double elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 162(1), pages 183-199, January.
    7. Fred Thompson, 1982. "Closeness counts in horseshoes and dancing ... and elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 38(3), pages 305-316, January.
    8. Dostie, Benoit & Dupré, Ruth, 2012. "“The people's will”: Canadians and the 1898 referendum on alcohol prohibition," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 49(4), pages 498-515.
    9. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2016. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 886-909, December.

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