We examine whether compulsory voting influences political participation as measured by voter turnout, invalid voting, political interest, confidence in parliament, and party membership. In Austria, some states temporarily introduced compulsory voting in national elections. We investigate border municipalities across two states which differ in compulsory voting legislation using a difference-in-differences approach. The results show that compulsory voting increased voter turnout by 3.5 percentage points but we do not find long-run effects. Once compulsory voting was abolished, voter turnout returned to pre-compulsory voting levels. Microdata evidence suggests that compulsory voting tends to crowd out intrinsic motivation for political participation which may explain why compulsory voting is not found to be habit-forming.
Compulsory voting election voter turnout difference-in-differences Austria