| Can Voting Be Increased by Asking People if They Expect to Vote?
Your candidate's campaign has gone very well. You have heard wonderful things from voters about the mailings and the TV ads. As a volunteer, you have made many calls on behalf of the candidate. However, you are a little worried. Tomorrow is the election, and you are concerned about voter turnout. It's probably going to be a close election, and all the efforts may be in vain if voter turnout is low. What can be done at this point? Perhaps supporters could receive one last call the evening before the election. They could be asked whether they expect to vote in the election.
In their second experiment, Greenwald, Carnot, Beach, and Young (1987) investigated the influence of asking people if they expect to vote on actual voting behavior. Undergraduate students who were registered to vote were called the evening before the 1984 presidential election. The first two questions that all the students were asked involved the location of the voting precinct and the times it was open. Some students were asked a third question about whether they expect to vote in the election. Other students were not asked whether they expect to vote.
Greewald et al. (1987) found that a greater percentage of people voted when asked if they expect to vote than when not asked. The difference in the percentage of people voting between these two conditions was greater than 20%. Thus, this finding suggests that voting can be significantly increased simply by asking people if they expect to vote!
This finding has important practical implications. Conceivably, it is possible that calling a significant percent of supporters and asking them whether they expect to vote could change an election outcome.
Greenwald, A.G., Carnot, C. G., Beach, R., & Young, B. (1987). Increasing
voting behavior by asking people if they expect to vote. Journal of Applied
Psychology, 72, 315-318.