Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 7 > Issue 3

Emails from Official Sources Can Increase Turnout

Neil Malhotra, Stanford University, USA, neilm@stanford.edu , Melissa R. Michelson, Menlo College, USA, melissa.michelson@menlo.edu , Ali Adam Valenzuela, Princeton University, USA, aavalenz@princeton.edu
Suggested Citation
Neil Malhotra, Melissa R. Michelson and Ali Adam Valenzuela (2012), "Emails from Official Sources Can Increase Turnout", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 7: No. 3, pp 321-332. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00011073

Publication Date: 19 Jun 2012
© 2012 N. Malhotra, M. R. Michelson and A. A. Valenzuela
Political participation,  Voting behavior


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In this article:
Experimental Design 


Previous research by Nickerson (2007a) testing 13 email get-out-the-vote (GOTV) campaigns concludes that email from third parties is not an effective method of increasing voter turnout. We conducted three rounds of email GOTV experiments in San Mateo County, California, in cooperation with the local registrar, the elected official responsible for administering elections. Unsolicited emails sent from the registrar consistently increased turnout among registered voters. The treatment effects are small, but statistically significant. In contrast, identical messages sent from a fictional voter mobilization organization had no measurable effect, consistent with Nickerson's results. We conclude that email sent from an official source can in fact be a cost-effective method of increasing turnout.