Do Drop Boxes Improve Voter Turnout? Evidence From King County, Washington

Loren Collingwood
William McGuire, University of Washington Tacoma
Benjamin Gonzalez O'Brien
Katherine Baird
Sarah Hampson


Considerable interest among academics and practitioners alike centers around identifying ways to improve voter turnout and voting parity across various subgroups in the U.S. population. Many scholars have investigated convenience voting and found mixed results in terms of its effects on turnout and its composition. A relatively new but unstudied method of voting is via ballot drop box, a method states and voters have increasingly turned to. We exploit the placement of over 30 new drop boxes in King County, Washington, the home of Seattle, during the 2016 election to investigate their effect on turnout. We find that distance to the closest ballot drop box increases one's probability of voting but primarily in off-year elections and primaries. We find mixed results for heterogeneous treatment effects. Implications are discussed.