Fewer "costs", more votes? U.K. Innovations in Electoral Administration 2000-2007 and their effect on voter turnout

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There is a rich political science literature on the relationship between election administration and voter turnout but it is largely based on studies of U.S. elections. Innovations with election administration by the United Kingdom’s New Labour government allow researchers to see whether U.S. findings travel. These short-term experiments and permanent reforms have been criticized for encouraging electoral fraud and undermining confidence in the democratic process (Wilks-Heeg, 2009); being led by motivations of party statecraft (James, 2010a); or being a false substitute for real democratic reform (Hay and Stoker, 2009: 226). There is much to these claims, and drawing lessons from the pilots is difficult because of poor experimental design. However, the innovations suggest that election administration can affect U.K. turnout. The effects of all-postal and individual registration appear to be particularly significant. Election administration is therefore an overlooked variable in non-U.S. literatures on electoral participation and is worthy of further investigation by researchers and policymakers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-52
Number of pages16
JournalElection Law Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011

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