Discount Voting

Voter Registration Reforms and their Effects

Discount Voting

In the U.S., there is wide variation from state to state in the institutional arrangements – for example, registration laws – that structure the environment in which citizens decide whether to vote and parties decide whom to mobilize. This has important consequences for who gets elected and the policies they enact. Hanmer argues that to understand how these institutional arrangements affect outcomes, it is necessary to consider the interactions between social and political context and these laws. He tests this theory by examining how the factors that influence the adoption of a set of registration laws affect turnout, the composition of the electorate, and party strategies. His multi-method research design demonstrates that the effect of registration laws is not as profound as either reformers would hope or previous studies suggest, especially when reform is a response to federal legislation. He concludes by arguing for a shift in the approach to increasing turnout.


"There is much to recommend this book. Michael Hanmer has made a significant substantive and methodological contribution to the study of voting systems and electoral reform. Incorporating both substantive and methodological insights, he has carefully crafted a strong argument for considering the endogeneity of electoral reform’s impact and how the forces that determine adoption of these reforms influence its impact on voter registration and turnout."
–Robert M. Stein, Rice University

"Discount Voting offers the cutting edge of mixed-methods research on the relationship between voter turnout and electoral rules. [S]cholars and policymakers interested in the costs of voting, registration, and turnout should consider it required reading."
–Edward M. Burmila, Perspectives on Politics

"Hanmer examines the varying environments under which EDR and motor voter were enacted, and is, therefore, able to incorporate strategic policymaking into the evaluation of policy effects. This is a real contribution to the existing literature on electoral reform, and challenges future researchers to seriously consider the political context underlying reform adoption when evaluating the success of other electoral laws."
–Melanie J. Springer, Public Opinion Quarterly