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Journal Article

The Effect of Registration Laws on Voter Turnout

Steven J. Rosenstone and Raymond E. Wolfinger
The American Political Science Review
Vol. 72, No. 1 (Mar., 1978), pp. 22-45
DOI: 10.2307/1953597
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1953597
Page Count: 24
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The Effect of Registration Laws on Voter Turnout
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Abstract

After the drastic relaxation of voter registration requirements in the 1960s, do present state laws keep people away from the polls? More specifically, which provisions have how much effect on what kinds of people? We have answered these questions with data from the Current Population Survey conducted by the Census Bureau in November 1972. State registration laws reduced turnout in the 1972 presidential election by about nine percentage points. The impact of the laws was heaviest in the South and on less educated people of both races. Early deadlines for registration and limited registration office hours were the biggest impediments to turnout. Contrary to expectations, changing these requirements would not substantially alter the character of the electorate. The voting population would be faintly less affluent and educated; the biggest difference would be a matter of one or two percentage points. In strictly political terms, the change would be even fainter-a gain for the Democrats of less than half a percent.

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