Polling place changes and political participation: evidence from North Carolina presidential elections, 2008–2016

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats


Citation Stats


<jats:title>Abstract</jats:title><jats:p>How do changes in Election Day polling place locations affect voter turnout? We study the behavior of more than 2 million eligible voters across three closely-contested presidential elections (2008–2016) in the swing state of North Carolina. Leveraging within-voter variation in polling place location change over time, we demonstrate that polling place changes reduce Election Day voting on average statewide. However, this effect is almost completely offset by substitution into early voting, suggesting that voters, on average, respond to a change in their polling place by choosing to vote early. While there is heterogeneity in these effects by the distance of the polling place change and the race of the affected voter, the fully offsetting substitution into early voting still obtains. We theorize this is because voters whose polling places change location receive notification mailers, offsetting search costs and priming them to think about the election before election day, driving early voting.</jats:p>






Published Version (Please cite this version)


Publication Info

Clinton, JD, N Eubank, A Fresh and ME Shepherd (2021). Polling place changes and political participation: evidence from North Carolina presidential elections, 2008–2016. Political Science Research and Methods, 9(4). pp. 800–817. 10.1017/psrm.2020.43 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24309.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.



Nicholas Eubank

Assistant Research Professor of Political Science

I am an Assistant Research Professor in the Duke Social Science Research Institute (SSRI), where I study a range of topics related to political accountability, include gerrymandering, social networks, election administration and race and incarceration.


Adriane Stewart Fresh

Assistant Professor of Political Science

I am an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Duke University. I received my PhD in Political Science at Stanford in 2017, and my MA in Economics at Stanford in 2015.  Prior to arriving at Duke, I was a post-doctoral fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at Vanderbilt University. 

I study the political economy of development. My research concerns how elites respond to dramatic economic and institutional changes. I'm interested in the effects of these changes on elite persistence and the strategies that elites employ to contend with potential disruptions to their power. I study a diverse set of historical time periods and country contexts including the Industrial Revolution in Britain, regime change in Chile, and black enfranchisement in the US. I am interested in quantitative methods, and I have a particular interest in causal inference in the context of observational research, as well as natural language processing using large corpuses of historical and historiographical text.

Unless otherwise indicated, scholarly articles published by Duke faculty members are made available here with a CC-BY-NC (Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial) license, as enabled by the Duke Open Access Policy. If you wish to use the materials in ways not already permitted under CC-BY-NC, please consult the copyright owner. Other materials are made available here through the author’s grant of a non-exclusive license to make their work openly accessible.