Discussion paper

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

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.


Pereira Dos Santos, J, J Tavares and P Vicente (2019), ‘DP13991 Can ATMs Get Out the Vote? Evidence from a Nationwide Field Experiment‘, CEPR Discussion Paper No. 13991. CEPR Press, Paris & London. https://cepr.org/publications/dp13991