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Leininger, Arndt; Rudolph, Lukas and Zittlau, Steffen (July 2018): How to Increase Turnout in Low-Salience Elections. Quasi-Experimental Evidence on the Effect of Concurrent Second-Order Elections on Political Participation. In: Political Science Research and Methods, Vol. 6, No. 3: pp. 509-526

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Voter turnout in second-order elections is on a dramatic decline in many modern democracies. This article investigates how electoral participation can be substantially increased by holding multiple of these less important elections simultaneously. Leading to a relative decrease in voting costs, concurrent elections theoretically have economies of scale to the individual voter and thus should see turnout levels larger than those obtained in any stand-alone election. Leveraging as-if-random variation of local election timing in Germany, we estimate the causal effect of concurrent mayoral elections on European election turnout at around 10 percentage points. Exploiting variation in treatment intensity, we show that the magnitude of the concurrency effect is contingent upon district size and the competitiveness of the local race.

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