Can subtle wordplay boost voter turnout?

You might boost turnout by 11-14 percentage points if you urge folks to “be a voter” rather than just “to vote.”

Prior to each election, do-gooders throughout the state remind people to vote. Utah’s lieutenant governor prepares voter information guides, with “Vote!” and “Leave your print!” written in big lettering across the front.

But here’s something interesting: A study that came out a couple days ago suggests that turnout might be much higher if the voter guide said “Be a voter!” instead of “Vote!” This should also interest political activists. If you’re out trying to mobilize voters to show up and support your preferred candidate, you might boost turnout by 11-14 percentage points if you urge folks to “be a voter” rather than just “to vote.”

You can read more here: “Motivating voter turnout by invoking the self.” (The link is to a website that I maintain for a political scientist audience, as opposed to this blog, which has more of a political junkie audience. But this particular study was cool enough that I thought I’d mention it here, too.)

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About Adam Brown

Adam Brown is an assistant professor of political science at Brigham Young University and a research fellow with the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy. You can learn more about him at his website.
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One Response to Can subtle wordplay boost voter turnout?

  1. Sue Connor, Ph.D. says:

    Thanks for posting this. Given Utah’s low voter turn out this is very interesting and helpful information.

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