Discussion Paper Details

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Title: Can ATMs Get Out the Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Field Experiment

Author(s): Jo„o Pereira Santos, Josť Tavares and Pedro C Vicente

Publication Date: September 2019

Keyword(s): ATMs, Local Elections, Portugal and Voter mobilization

Programme Area(s): Public Economics

Abstract: We report on a large-scale field experiment to assess ATMs (automatic teller machines) capacity to "get out the vote". This is a heretofore unexploited method. Our experimental design used the universe of functioning ATMs in Portugal. We randomly selected a set of treatment civil parishes, where a civic message took over the totality of ad time, which we compare with a set of control areas. The campaign we follow was active for three days before and during the 2017 local elections. Although we do not achieve statistical significance on a stable but small average treatment effect, when we consider the intensity of treatment, results show a statistically significant increase in the likelihood of voting. Placebo tests using turnout rates in previous elections strengthen our interpretation. We ran a post-treatment survey around ATMs located in two neighbouring civil parishes, one treated, the other not. We found a sizeable difference in recall.

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Bibliographic Reference

Pereira Santos, J, Tavares, J and Vicente, P. 2019. 'Can ATMs Get Out the Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Field Experiment'. London, Centre for Economic Policy Research.