Assessing the trend toward liberalization: has no-excuse absentee voting increased voter turnout?
Few researchers have attempted to investigate the apparent link between rates of absentee voting and voter turnout in U.S. elections. In an effort to sketch a more accurate portrait of this relationship, my own research expands upon an existing theoretical framework. "The Effects of Eligibility Restrictions and Party Activity on Absentee Voting and Overall Turnout," by J. Eric Oliver appeared in the May 1996 issue of the American Journal of Political Science. Using data from the 1992 Current Population Survey, Voter Supplement File, Oliver employs logistic regressions with key variables of interest measuring state restrictions to absentee voting, the nature of each state's primary elections, and the extent of party activity in each state. I have updated and revised Oliver's research using a more recent edition of the Current Population Survey (November 2004). Where appropriate, relevant changes to state absentee voting restrictions and party primaries over the past decade have been incorporated within modified versions of Oliver's regression models. In contrast to the research conducted by Oliver more than a decade ago, I find no quantifiable association between access to absentee ballots and overall voter turnout. Moreover, I find no evidence to suggest that voter turnout varies between states with closed primaries and those holding open primary elections.
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