New report about how to influence voters to use their right to vote

In connection with the parliamentary elections in 2017, experiments with specific measures were carried out to increase voter participation. The purpose of the experiments was to inquire the impact of different measures to mobilize people to vote.

The experiment was a follow-up of a similar experiment carried out at the municipal council elections in 2015. Two of the experiments were funded by the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation, which is responsible for elections in Norway.

In the first experiment, letters were sent to a random sample of immigrants entitled to vote before the election. The second experiment was a campaign using text messages (SMS) aimed at a random sample taken from all voters. The control group were the voters who did not receive a letter or a SMS. The sending of SMS proved to have little effect in the parliamentary elections. The effect was somewhat greater when sending letters to immigrant voters. There was some greater participation in the election of immigrants who received letters compared to immigrants who did not receive a letter. Thus, the results of the experiments in 2017 differed from the experiments in 2015, when the effect was much greater. A probable explanation for this is that the election participation in parliamentary elections is generally higher than at local elections. There will be far fewer non-voters to mobilize in parliamentary elections with a higher voter turnout than in local elections.

By experimenting with measures to increase the participation at elections, the Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation has now gained knowledge of the effect of giving voters an additional reminder to vote. The Ministry has got knowledge to decide if the measures are to be continued and expanded.

Report: Johannes Bergh, Dag Arne Christensen, Richard Matland: Voter Mobilization in a High-Turnout Context. Get out the Vote Experiments in the 2017 Norwegian Parliamentary Election. Institute for Social Research 2018. Report 2018:7 (pdf)