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Drivers Wanted: Motor Voter and the Election of 1996


  • Knack, Stephen


The first presidential election following implementation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 was also the first in the lifetimes of most Americans in which a minority of the voting-age population bothered to vote. While that outcome must be a source of embarrassment to many reform advocates, this study has shown that the turnout decline was in fact substantially slowed by registration reform. Moreover, the full effects of the key “motor voter” innovation have yet to be felt in at least two-thirds of the states, representing more than three quarters of the voting-age population. Similarly, the disproportionately large turnout decline among the young would have been even more extreme in the absence of reform, based on evidence obtained in this study. Little evidence of other progressive effects--by race, education, income, or mobility status--is found however. Finally, although partisan identification and presidential voting moved in the Democrats’ direction between 1992 and 1996, registration reform appears to have slightly favored the Republicans. The shift toward Democratic ID and voting was largest in the states with the least reform, while the largest shift away from Democratic ID occurred in the states with the most extensive reform.

Suggested Citation

  • Knack, Stephen, 1998. "Drivers Wanted: Motor Voter and the Election of 1996," MPRA Paper 24983, University Library of Munich, Germany, revised Jun 1999.
  • Handle: RePEc:pra:mprapa:24983

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    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    1. Richard J. Cebula & Gordon Tullock, 2006. "An Extension of the Rational Voter Model," Chapters,in: The Elgar Companion to Public Economics, chapter 15 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    2. Hope Corman & Dhaval Dave & Nancy E. Reichman, 2017. "Effects Of Welfare Reform On Women'S Voting Participation," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 55(3), pages 1430-1451, July.
    3. Cebula, Richard & Lawson, Luther, 2002. "A Framework for Teaching the Rational Voter Model in Public Choice Courses," MPRA Paper 53183, University Library of Munich, Germany.

    More about this item


    Voting; Elections;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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