Title Postal Voter Recruitment and Turnout Experiment
Post date 04/03/2018
C1 Background and Explanation of Rationale

We use a randomised control trial (RCT) to test the effect of partisan letters on the uptake of postal voting in the United Kingdom. Households in Southwark, London were randomly assigned to receive a letter from the local Liberal Democrats encouraging them to apply for postal voting either online or by returning to the local council an enclosed postal voter application form. Our aim is to test (1) whether a party’s efforts to recruit known supporters to postal votes is effective, and (2) whether these efforts have an effect on the turnout of these supporters.

Evidence from the US suggests that it is possible to change voters’ registration from the traditional, in-person status, to postal voter status (or ‘Vote-By-Mail’) . However, existing studies have been conducted in the US, with limited research conducted in the UK. The first (and to our knowledge, only) experiment to test partisan efforts to mobilise voters through vote-by-mail was also conducted in the US, during the 2016 elections. Hassell’s (2017) experiment tested the effect of encouragements to vote-by-mail sent on behalf of the Republican Party to Republican supporters in Minnesota. The results suggest that party supporters sent a letter urging them to vote-by-mail were indeed more likely to do so. Our study broadly replicates Hassell’s study. We hope to build on existing research by adding another partisan experiment that tests the effect of treatments urging voters to vote-by-mail – this time, in Britain. Given the imbalance of existing experiments towards non-partisan, US-based studies, we hope to examine whether these findings generalise to postal voting recruitment in a UK context. The experiment represents (to our knowledge) the first partisan postal vote recruitment study to be conducted outside the US.

C2 What are the hypotheses to be tested?

The first hypothesis is that individuals living in households that receive encouragements to register for a postal vote will see higher postal vote registration. The second hypothesis is that those in the treatment group will also see a higher turnout rate at the local election.

C3 How will these hypotheses be tested? *

We will measure the intent-to-treat (ITT) of treatments on both of our outcome measures (postal voter registration and turnout). As the experiment is cluster randomised at household level, our regression models will include clusters for households. We will regress postal voter registration on assignment, using covariates to generate more precise estimates.

C4 Country United Kingdom
C5 Scale (# of Units) 3092
C6 Was a power analysis conducted prior to data collection? No
C7 Has this research received Insitutional Review Board (IRB) or ethics committee approval? not provided by authors
C8 IRB Number not provided by authors
C9 Date of IRB Approval not provided by authors
C10 Will the intervention be implemented by the researcher or a third party? Southwark Liberal Democrats
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) not provided by authors
Anonymous Documentation PDF icon 20180403AA_PAP.pdf