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Rock the Registration: Same Day Registration Increases Turnout of Young Voters

Studies find that same day registration (SDR) laws increase turnout, but less is known about which kinds of voters are most affected. Young people are disproportionately burdened by traditional registration laws because they frequently change addresses and infrequently interact with government agencies providing registration services. SDR laws, which lower the cost of registration, should increase turnout most among young people. Laws that lower the cost of voting but not the cost of registration should be less effective at increasing youth turnout. Difference-in-differences estimates suggest that SDR disproportionately increases turnout among individuals aged 18–24 (an effect between 3.1 and 7.3 percentage points). The effect of SDR on young voters is especially pronounced in presidential elections. By contrast, the effects of early voting and other reforms are smaller and do not consistently vary by age. The results suggest that expanded SDR may produce a younger electorate.