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Republish it! But please do not edit the piece. Also make sure that you attribute the author, and mention the article was originally published on Scholars Strategy Network. \u003Cem\u003EBy copying and pasting the markup below you will be adhering to these guidelines.\u003C\/em\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022\/republishing-ssn-articles\u0022\u003EView additional guideline details.\u003C\/a\u003E\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n\n \u003Ctextarea\u003E\n \u003Cdiv about=\u0022\/brief\/do-election-reforms-promote-equal-participation\u0022 typeof=\u0022sioc:Item foaf:Document\u0022 class=\u0022ds-1col node node-brief view-mode-stealourcontent_node clearfix\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ch2\u003E\n Do Election Reforms Promote Equal Participation?\n \u003C\/h2\u003E\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/affiliate\/elizabeth-rigby\u0022\u003EElizabeth Rigby\u003C\/a\u003E, The George Washington University\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EIn recent decades, many U.S. states have adopted reforms intended to make it easier for citizens to vote. \u201cMotor-voter\u201d laws, for example, encourage people to register to vote when they renew their drivers permits. Early voting reforms allow people to vote over a period of weeks or days, not just on Election Day. And Election Day registration creates a one-stop process, allowing citizens to register and vote at the same time and place. Proponents of all these changes often say they have two goals in mind. They aim to boost voter turnout. And they want to make elections more equal. As things now are, wealthier Americans are much more likely to vote than citizens with lower incomes.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003E\u003Cem\u003EDo recent changes in voter registration and voting practices actually make voting more equal in the United States?\u003C\/em\u003E To answer this question, my colleague Melanie Springer and I looked at patterns of voting before and after each change in state rules about registration and voting. We used statistical techniques to control for many factors that might have influenced who votes, but we also honed in on inequalities between the rich and poor. To measure that inequality, we used data gathered by the U.S. Census Bureau in the November following each presidential or midterm election since 1978 to develop an indicator of \u003Cem\u003Eincome vote bias.\u003C\/em\u003E This indicator tells how much more likely the rich are to vote than people with lower incomes. On average, wealthier Americans are 65 percent more likely to vote than those with low incomes. However, the extent of this income skew has varied across the fifty states and over the course of the sixteen national elections held between 1978 and 2008. Would we find sharp changes in one direction or another following important election-law reforms?\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003ESome Reforms Promote Equality; Others Do Not\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EDifferent reforms have contrasting effects on inequality, we discovered. We identify three approaches states have taken in recent election-law changes \u2013 and show how each affects the balance of voter turnout between the rich and poor.\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cul class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003ERegistration reform\u003C\/strong\u003E focuses on making voter registration easier. Since the 1960s, 48 states have adopted some form of mail-in registration that allows would-be registrants to send in a postcard rather than making a trip to the registrar\u2019s office or arranging for a notary and witnesses to an application. Motor-voter programs were also adopted by a few states before the 1993 National Voter Registration Act required all nonexempt states to implement motor-voter programs. Because registration reforms make it easier for individuals to become eligible voters, they should especially encourage those who were previously underrepresented in the electorate. And that is what our research found for Motor-voter laws, which led to a decrease in income vote bias in states where there had previously been big gaps in registration between the rich and poor.\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EEliminating the registration barrier\u003C\/strong\u003E decreases the importance of registration as a gateway to voting. This approach effectively eliminates the two-stage process that requires people first to figure out how to register and then weeks later to go to the polls to deliver their ballots. In 1951, the state of North Dakota completely eliminated registration. No other state has gone that far, but eleven states plus the District of Columbia have adopted Election Day registration programs, which allow potential voters to register when they show up at the polls on Election Day. Everything is compressed into one concise step. Not surprisingly, we find that income bias in voting is reduced following the enactment of this reform \u2013 and the equalizing impact is most pronounced in states where the registration rolls were previously especially highly skewed by income.\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003Cli\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Cstrong\u003EConvenience voting\u003C\/strong\u003E measures are the third type of reform, in which voting procedures are altered to make casting the ballot easier for citizens who are already registered to vote. One example is \u201cno-excuse\u201d absentee voting, which half the states now offer. Registered voters can request an absentee ballot without any explanation of why they cannot appear on Election Day. Another convenience reform involves opening polling places for days or weeks prior to Election Day, to allow people to cast ballots in person at various times. This approach has recently become popular. No states had adopted early voting in 1978, while 31 states offered this convenience by the time of the 2008 election. Nevertheless, our research documents that convenience reforms mostly help citizens who are already registered to vote. Because low-income citizens are less likely to be registered, they do not benefit very much. We found an increase in the income vote bias after states adopted convenience reforms.\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/li\u003E\n \u003C\/ul\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EIn fact, we saw this dynamic at play during the 2008 presidential election. Among the ten states that experienced the greatest income bias in voting, eight had adopted early voting reforms, and seven had particularly large gaps in registration between the rich and poor. These states made it easier for registered citizens to vote, but the people registered tended to be richer.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-title\u0022\u003ELessons for Reformers\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EOur findings offer both warnings and opportunities to anyone hoping to make U.S. elections more equal. On the cautionary side, today\u2019s most popular electoral reforms focus on making voting very convenient. But doing only this can increase the gap in participation between rich and poor \u2013 especially in states where voter registration is very unequal and nothing is done to make registration easier for everyone.\u003C\/span\u003E\u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cbr\u003E\n \u003Cspan class=\u0022brief-paragraph\u0022\u003EYet our findings also show that Election Day registration can greatly reduce inequalities in voter participation. Replacing two separate steps with one trip to the voting place makes a real difference for low-income citizens. Election Day registration is the reform that has demonstrated the greatest potential to make American electoral democracy more equal \u2013 and simplifying registration is an especially important step to take in conjunction with making voting itself more convenient. To date, only a few states have adopted Election Day registration. This reform beckons as an untapped tool for Americans who want full and equal voter participation.\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cp class=\u0022brief-footer-comments\u0022\u003E\n Read more in Elizabeth Rigby and Melanie J. Springer, \u201c\u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.jstor.org\/stable\/pdf\/23056401.pdf?acceptTC=true\u0022\u003EDoes Electoral Reform Increase (or Decrease) Political Equality?\u003C\/a\u003E\u201d \u003Cem\u003EPolitical Research Quarterly\u003C\/em\u003E 64, no. 2 (2011): 420-434.\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Ctable border=\u00220\u0022 align=\u0022left\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/scholarsstrategynetwork.org\u0022\u003Ewww.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\u003C\/a\u003E\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Ctable border=\u00220\u0022 align=\u0022right\u0022\u003E\n \u003Ctr\u003E\n \u003Ctd\u003E\n July 2015; updated from April 2012\n \u003C\/td\u003E\n \u003C\/tr\u003E\n \u003C\/table\u003E\n \u003Cp\u003E\n \u003Cspan\u003E\u003Cspan\u003E\u0026nbsp;\u003C\/span\u003E\u003C\/span\u003E\n \u003C\/p\u003E\n\u003C\/div\u003E \u003Cp\u003EThis article was originally published on \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/\u0022\u003EScholars Strategy Network\u003C\/a\u003E. Read the \u003Ca href=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/brief\/do-election-reforms-promote-equal-participation\u0022\u003Eoriginal article\u003C\/a\u003E.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003Cimg height=\u00221\u0022 width=\u00221\u0022 typeof=\u0022foaf:Image\u0022 src=\u0022http:\/\/www.scholarsstrategynetwork.org\/stealourcontent\/track.gif?nid=1322\u0022 alt=\u0022\u0022 \/\u003E \u003C\/textarea\u003E\n\n \u003Cp\u003ECopy the above code and paste it into your website or CMS to republish.\u003C\/p\u003E\n \u003C\/div\u003E\n"}]