Can Where People Vote Influence How They Vote? The Influence of Polling Location Type on Voting Behavior

Can Where People Vote Influence How They Vote? The Influence of Polling Location Type on Voting Behavior

By S. Christian Wheeler, Jonah Berger, Marc Meredith
2006Working Paper No. 1926

Can the type of polling place in which people vote (e.g. church, school, or firehouse) influence how they cast their ballot? Results of two studies suggest it can. A field study using Arizonas 2000 general election found that voters were more likely to support raising the state sales tax to support education if they voted in schools, as opposed to other types of polling locations. This effect persisted even when controlling for voters political views, demographics, and unobservable characteristics of those individuals living near schools. A voting experiment extended these findings to other initiatives (i.e. stem cells) and a case in which people were randomly assigned to different environmental primes (i.e. church-related, school-related or generic building images). The present studies reveal that even in noisy, real-world environments, subtle environmental cues can influence decisions on issues of real consequence.

Keywords
Politics