New study examines the impact of on-campus voter registration efforts on college student turnout

A paper was just published in PS: Political Science & Politics by Stacy G. Ulbig and Tamara Waggener, “Getting Registered and Getting to the Polls: The Impact of Voter Registration Strategy and Information Provision on Turnout of College Students.” Here is the study’s abstract:

Each election year, colleges and universities across the nation witness a plethora of on-campus voter registration activities. The results of these drives are most often assessed by tallying the number of voter registration cards collected. Little has been done, however, to more carefully investigate these results. As a first attempt to examine postdrive results more thoroughly, we ask two questions. First, do students who register through an on-campus voter registration drive actually make it to the voting booth? Second, does providing basic information about the voting process increase turnout among students who register through an on-campus voter registration drive? In this study, we investigate the overall turnout rate of students registering to vote in the 2008 presidential election through on-campus registration drives by validating votes through the office of the county voting registrar. We then compare the turnout rate of students who registered through the on-campus drives with the turnout rate of similar young people nationwide. Finally, we investigate whether the provision of information through certain avenues boosts turnout. Our findings show that students who registered through an on-campus voter registration drive turned out to vote at a higher rate than similar young people nationwide. Additionally, we found small but important effects of information provision through different formats.