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Opening Hours of Polling Stations and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment

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  • Niklas Potrafke
  • Felix Rösel

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 percent 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 Rösel, 2018. "Opening Hours of Polling Stations and Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," ifo Working Paper Series 257, ifo Institute - Leibniz Institute for Economic Research at the University of Munich.
  • Handle: RePEc:ces:ifowps:_257
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    2. Marco Frank & David Stadelmann & Benno Torgler, 2020. "Electoral Turnout During States of Emergency and Effects on Incumbent Vote Share," CREMA Working Paper Series 2020-10, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    3. Andrea Bonoldi & Chiara Dalle Nogare & Martin Mosler & Niklas Potrafke, 2020. "Do inheritance rules affect voter turnout? Evidence from an Alpine region," Constitutional Political Economy, Springer, vol. 31(4), pages 395-445, December.
    4. 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.
    5. Davis, Lewis S., 2018. "Political economy of growth with a taste for status," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 168(C), pages 35-46.
    6. 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.
    7. Stefanie Gäbler & Niklas Potrafke & Felix Rösel, 2017. "Compulsory Voting, Voter Turnout and Asymmetrical Habit-formation," CESifo Working Paper Series 6764, CESifo.
    8. Gaebler, Stefanie & Potrafke, Niklas & Roesel, Felix, 2020. "Compulsory voting and political participation: Empirical evidence from Austria," Regional Science and Urban Economics, Elsevier, vol. 81(C).
    9. Sebastian Garmann, 2020. "Voter turnout and public sector employment policy," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 15(4), pages 845-868, October.
    10. Sebastian Garmann, 0. "Voter turnout and public sector employment policy," The Review of International Organizations, Springer, vol. 0, pages 1-24.
    11. 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.
    12. Adam Pilny & Felix Roesel, 2020. "Are Doctors Better Health Ministers?," American Journal of Health Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 6(4), pages 498-532.
    13. 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.
    14. 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.
    15. Sebastian Garmann, 2020. "Political efficacy and the persistence of turnout shocks," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 32(3), pages 411-429, November.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Voter turnout; party vote shares; opening hours of polling stations; causal effects; natural experiment; Austria.;
    All these keywords.

    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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