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Title Campaign Finance Vouchers, Information, and Ideology
Post date 08/01/2017
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

The emergence of campaign finance vouchers has created an opportunity to measure the costs of campaign finance disclosure on political participation. Because voting is low-cost and secret and contributing to a campaign is high-cost and public we observe a persistent participation gap in American politics: people are much more likely to vote than contribute. But this gap is driven by (at least) two factors: (1) financial cost and (2) privacy so to date it has been difficult to pinpoint the reason for the participation gap. Campaign finance vouchers eliminate the cost of contributing to a candidate so the observed participation gap in a voucher system is likely driven by privacy concerns (legally suspect under the First Amendment) and not by financial limitations (not legally suspect). The City of Seattle has adopted a voucher program, which will debut in the August 2017 local elections. Seattle's program requires full disclosure of how each voucher was spent. In this study, we rely on Seattle's requirement of full transparency to examine the effects of disclosure on political participation.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

H1: Local political outliers will be relatively less likely to use their vouchers than to vote, compared to people who are not local political outliers (high participation gap).

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

Observational data (voter lists, voucher database, Catalist ideology score).
Matching: matching individuals with similar ideology based on whether they are outliers in their neighborhoods (A=1) or not (A=0).
Regression analysis to provide context, using D and R as continuous variables.

C4 Country United States of America
C5 Scale (# of Units) 500,000
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? No
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? Yes
C8 IRB Number UP-17-00477 (University of Southern California)
C9 Date of IRB Approval July 17, 2017
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? N/A. This is an observational study
C11 Did any of the research team receive remuneration from the implementing agency for taking part in this research? No
C12 If relevant, is there an advance agreement with the implementation group that all results can be published? not provided by authors
C13 JEL Classification(s) K16, H76, H42, L33