We examine whether compulsory voting influences habit-formation in voting. In Austria, some states temporarily introduced compulsory voting in national elections. We exploit border municipalities across two states that differ in compulsory voting legislation using a difference-in-differences and a difference-in-discontinuity approach. We investigate the long-term effects of compulsory voting on voter turnout, invalid votes and vote shares for left-wing and right-wing parties. The results show that compulsory voting increased voter turnout by 3.4 percentage points. When compulsory voting was abolished, voter turnout, however, returned to the pre-compulsory voting level. The results also do not suggest that compulsory voting influenced invalid votes and vote shares of left-wing and right-wing parties asymmetrically. We conclude that compulsory voting was not habit-forming.
compulsory voting voter turnout party vote shares difference-in-discontinuity design habit-formation Austria