We’re already starting to hear about possible candidates for the 2008 presidential election, even though voting is more than a year away. In the last elections, people worried that their votes weren’t counted. Will this cause people not to bother to vote?maybe not even to register?

Campaigns historically have focused on turning out registered voters, but with the closeness of recent national elections the major parties are focusing more on voter registration. A new study of voter participation in presidential elections reveals that “later is better” when it comes to voter registration. People who register to vote closer to registration deadlines are much more likely to vote on Election Day than are people who register earlier in an election year.

Researcher Joshua J. Dyck says, “It’s a very interesting pattern. For political campaigns focused on get-out-the-vote efforts, the takeaway message is this: you’ll get more bang for your buck if you focus on the narrow window close to the registration deadline. That’s where we see a huge surge in voter registration and those people are much more likely to turn out to vote.”

Dyck says that, “political parties are much more effective at turning out people who they know are going to be reliable supporters than they are at generating new voters,” but his research shows that “they should consider adding late-registration drives to their outreach, and that timing is important.”

Art credit: freeimages.co.uk

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