Voting When the Stakes Are High
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Most theories of voter behavior predict that electoral participation will be higher in elections where more is at stake. We test this prediction by studying how participation is affected by exogenous variation in local governments' financial exibility to provide pork for their voters. Utilizing simultaneous elections for different offices, we identify a positive effect of election stakes on participation: Higher stakes at the local level increase participation at the local relative to the regional election. Survey evidence indicates that the underlying mechanism relates to citizens' acquisition of information.