Open Access Dissertation
Date of Award
Turnout in the United States is low, especially in municipal elections. Early voting laws, which have been adopted by over half of the states within the United States, offer voters a chance to cast a ballot over a longer period of time thereby lowering the cost of voting. Early voting includes no excuse absentee voting, in person early voting, and/or vote by mail elections. Many of the previous studies on early voting have focused on national or statewide elections. What has been largely understudied is the impact of early voting laws on voter turnout in municipal elections, where voter turnout is the lowest. Previous early voting studies that have included municipal elections in their analysis have examined vote by mail laws or only examined in person early voting only in the year it was implemented leaving unanswered questions on the impact of in person early voting laws on voter turnout in municipal elections over time. Additionally, many of the studies on early voting and voter turnout in municipal elections have not included the institutional and local contextual factors of municipalities; important features when studying municipal elections as previous research indicates that these contextual factors impact voter turnout. In contrast to previous studies, this project seeks to determine how early voting laws, in particular in person early voting, influence political participation in municipal elections when accounting for the institutional and local contexts of municipalities. Using data collected from 938 cities in Ohio, I conduct an interrupted time series analysis to examine the impact of early voting laws on voter turnout in municipal elections. I find that in-person early voting has a significant negative effect on voter turnout in municipal elections. This finding is consistent with other studies that have found in-person early voting laws have not increased voter turnout in national or statewide elections. This suggests that early voting laws alone may not be an adequate solution to the low voter turnout problem found in municipal elections.
Alberda, Gayle, "Election Reform: Does Early Voting Impact Turnout In Municipal Elections?" (2014). Wayne State University Dissertations. 1004.