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Political Information, Institutions and Citizen Participation in American Politics


Wilson, Catherine Heden (2003) Political Information, Institutions and Citizen Participation in American Politics. Dissertation (Ph.D.), California Institute of Technology. doi:10.7907/W7Y2-D479.


I estimate the effects of uncertainty about candidates' ideological positions and institutionally imposed costs of voting on the likelihood that an individual turns out and votes. I do this using a simple model of turnout and vote choice that reflects the combined, simultaneous nature of vote decision-making. I show that the impact of eliminating the registration deadline and instituting DMV registration in the 1972-2000 presidential elections would have been less than that of eliminating uncertainty. Furthermore, I show that these changes would have had quite different impacts on the outcome of each election. The increased number of votes due to eliminating registration deadlines would generally have advantaged the Democratic candidates whereas the increased number of votes due to eliminating uncertainty would have advantaged candidates of both parties fairly equally over the course of the elections studied. This suggests that it may be more feasible to increase turnout with policies that aim to reduce uncertainty rather than with policies that aim to reduce registration barriers.

Item Type:Thesis (Dissertation (Ph.D.))
Subject Keywords:elections; information; turnout; voting
Degree Grantor:California Institute of Technology
Division:Humanities and Social Sciences
Major Option:Social Science
Thesis Availability:Public (worldwide access)
Research Advisor(s):
  • Alvarez, R. Michael
Thesis Committee:
  • Alvarez, R. Michael (chair)
  • Kiewiet, D. Roderick
  • Grether, David M.
  • Katz, Jonathan N.
Defense Date:6 September 2002
Record Number:CaltechETD:etd-05292003-160904
Persistent URL:
Default Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:2236
Deposited By: Imported from ETD-db
Deposited On:09 Jun 2003
Last Modified:04 Jun 2024 21:45

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