The Perverse Consequences of Electoral Reform in the United States

  title={The Perverse Consequences of Electoral Reform in the United States},
  author={Adam J. Berinsky},
  journal={American Politics Research},
  pages={471 - 491}
  • A. Berinsky
  • Published 1 July 2005
  • Political Science, Economics
  • American Politics Research
A number of electoral reforms have been enacted in the United States in the past three decades that are designed to increase turnout by easing restrictions on the casting of ballots. Both proponents and opponents of electoral reforms agree that these reforms should increase the demographic representativeness of the electorate by reducing the direct costs of voting, thereby increasing turnout among less-privileged groups who, presumably, are most sensitive to the costs of coming to the polls. In… 
Electoral reforms and the representativeness of turnout
Abstract Voters tend to be richer, more conservative, and more educated than non-voters. While many electoral reforms promise to increase political participation, these policy instruments may have
Election Laws, Mobilization, and Turnout: The Unanticipated Consequences of Election Reform
State governments have experimented with a variety of election laws to make voting more convenient and increase turnout. The impacts of these reforms vary in surprising ways, providing insight into
The Resurgent American Voter, 1996-2012
Sparked both by normative concerns and a classic empirical puzzle, scholars developed and tested a variety of explanations for the turnout decline in the US between 1960 and 1988. More than a decade
State Electoral Institutions and Voter Turnout In Presidential Elections, 1920–2000
  • M. Springer
  • Economics
    State Politics & Policy Quarterly
  • 2012
Expansive and restrictive state electoral institutions have been instrumental in structuring the vote throughout American history. Studies focused on a small number of reforms, years, or states lack
Bringing the Polls to the People: How Electoral Access Encourages Turnout But Exacerbates Political Inequality
New or fragile democracies often suffer from low political participation. In these contexts attempts to increase electoral access are generally seen as unambiguously desirable. But while these
Direct Democracy, Postal Voting, and the Composition of Turnout
Electoral reforms that decrease the costs of political participation promise to reduce class biases in civic engagement. However, this could lower the quality of democracy as the less politically
How Electoral Institutions Affect Political Accountability: Evidence from All-Mail Elections∗
A central question in the study of democratic governance concerns the conditions under which voters make informed choices at the ballot box. I exploit the staggered implementation of an electoral
Beyond Campaign Finance Reform
While the public blames the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. FEC for the outsized political influence of the superwealthy, experts in the field know that the
How the Delegation of Voting Rights Affects the Measurement of Voting Behavior
There is substantial agreement in political science literature that election laws shape electoral outcomes. The existing literature assumes that election laws are implemented as written, but there is
Race, Party, and American Voting Rights
Abstract There are few advanced democracies that simultaneously make voting as easy and as difficult as the US. This essay outlines some of the recent changes in voting rights and election law, with


Rethinking the Vote: The Politics and Prospects of American Election Reform
I. INTRODUCTION A Tale of Two Democracies II. PROBLEMS THAT MIGHT NEED FIXING Election Reform: The U.S. News Media's Response to the Mistakes Of Election 2000 Counting Ballots and the 2000 Election:
What if Everyone Voted? Simulating the Impact of Increased Turnout in Senate Elections
The conventional wisdom among journalists and politicians is that higher turnout would benefit Democrats, although extant scholarly research suggests otherwise. We adopt a new approach to assessing
Partisan Effects of Voter Turnout in Senatorial and Gubernatorial Elections
Conventional wisdom holds that higher turnout favors Democrats. Previous studies of this hypothesis rely on presidential and House elections or on survey data, but senatorial and gubernatorial
The Implications of Nonvoting for Democracy in the United States
This paper reconsiders several of the arguments normative theorists have constructed about political participation's impact on the democratic polity. Two key arguments are addressed in the context of
Voter Registration and Turnout in the United States
  • B. Highton
  • Political Science
    Perspectives on Politics
  • 2004
In a democracy, voting is the most fundamental act of political participation and therefore holds a central location in the study of political behavior. One significant research tradition focuses on
The impact of legal constraints on voter registration, turnout, and the composition of the American electorate
Research on the effects of restrictive voter registration laws has been largely passé for nearly a decade, apparently due to the widespread acceptance of Wolfinger and Rosenstone's (1980) study of
Who Votes by Mail?: A Dynamic Model of the Individual-Level Consequences of Voting-by-Mail Systems.
It is argued that VBM does increase voter turnout in the long run, primarily by making it easier for current voters to continue to participate, rather than by mobilizing nonvoters into the electorate, and that this effects are not uniform across all groups in the electorate.
Does changing the rules change the players? The effect of all-mail elections on the composition of the electorate
The all-mail format of the 1996 special Senate election in the state of Oregon provides an opportunity to test previous assumptions about the effect of elevated voter turnout on the composition of
Where Turnout Matters: The Consequences of Uneven Turnout in City Politics
There is a widespread concern that imbalances in voter turnout across race and class have led to biased outcomes in American democracy. Yet empirical tests have generally found that the
Suppose They Held an Election and Almost Everybody Came!
No modern political system, with the possible exception of a few dictatorships, can produce close to a 100% turnout of all those who are legally eligible to vote. But imagine a democratic system in