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Opening hours of polling stations and voter turnout: Evidence from a natural experiment

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  • Niklas Potrafke

    () (Ifo Institute, Ifo Center for Public Finance and Political Economy
    University of Munich)

  • Felix Roesel

    (Ifo Institute, Dresden Branch
    Technische Universität Dresden)

Abstract

Abstract Voter turnout has declined in many countries, raising the question of whether electoral institutions increase voter turnout. We exploit an electoral reform in the Austrian state of Burgenland as a natural experiment to identify the causal effect of polling station opening hours on voter turnout. The results show that a 10% increase in opening hours increased voter turnout by some 0.5 to 0.9 percentage points. The reform also influenced party vote shares. The vote share of the conservative party decreased in the course of the reform, while the vote shares of the other three main parties increased. Conservative voters tend to have an especially strict sense of civic duty and would have participated in the election in any event. Simulations indicate that parliamentary majorities in previous elections would have changed under extended opening hours in favor of the social democratic party. The opening hours of polling stations probably play a more important role in political strategies than recognized to date.

Suggested Citation

  • Niklas Potrafke & Felix Roesel, 2020. "Opening hours of polling stations and voter turnout: Evidence from a natural experiment," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 15(1), pages 133-163, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:revint:v:15:y:2020:i:1:d:10.1007_s11558-018-9305-8
    DOI: 10.1007/s11558-018-9305-8
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    Cited by:

    1. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2016. "A Banana Republic? Trust in Electoral Institutions in Western Democracies - Evidence from a Presidential Election in Austria," CESifo Working Paper Series 6254, CESifo Group Munich.
    2. Christian Ochsner & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Activated History - The Case of the Turkish Sieges of Vienna," CESifo Working Paper Series 6586, CESifo Group Munich.
    3. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Roesel, 2019. "A banana republic? The effects of inconsistencies in the counting of votes on voting behavior," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 178(1), pages 231-265, January.
    4. Davis, Lewis S., 2018. "Political economy of growth with a taste for status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 35-46.
    5. Sebastian Garmann, 2017. "The effect of a reduction in the opening hours of polling stations on turnout," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 171(1), pages 99-117, April.
    6. Carolin Fritzsche & Lars Vandrei, 2018. "Causes of Vacancies in the Housing Market – A Literature Review," ifo Working Paper Series 258, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
    7. Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2018. "Welche Folgen haben längere Öffnungszeiten von Wahllokalen?," ifo Schnelldienst, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich, vol. 71(05), pages 23-26, March.
    8. Stefanie Gäbler & Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-formation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6764, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    D72; D02; Z18;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D02 - Microeconomics - - General - - - Institutions: Design, Formation, Operations, and Impact
    • Z18 - Other Special Topics - - Cultural Economics - - - Public Policy

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