DP13991 Can ATMs Get Out the Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Field Experiment

Author(s): João Pereira Santos, José Tavares, Pedro C Vicente
Publication Date: September 2019
Keyword(s): ATMs, Local Elections, Portugal, Voter mobilization
JEL(s): C93, D72, H70
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=13991

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.