Date of Award

Spring 5-2020

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program

Political Science


Political Science

Major Professor

Christine Day

Second Advisor

Edward Chervenak

Third Advisor

Robert Montjoy



Does early voting advance the democratic process in achieving political equality? Does it create more equity in the representativeness of an electorate? According to rational choice and economic theory, the expanded opportunity to vote should reduce an individual’s cost to vote, thus resulting in higher voter turnouts where traditionally marginalized voters will take advantage of early voting opportunities.

This research conducts an individual-level analysis of more than five-million voter cases over four consecutive Louisiana statewide elections of all individuals who voted in each of the elections from 2015 to 2016. These elections include the 2016 U.S. presidential election, a gubernatorial primary, a gubernatorial runoff, and a U.S. Senate runoff election. It seeks to find individual indicators of a voter’s choice between early voting and election day voting and whether or not early voting creates a mobilization effect or a convenience effect in voter turnout in Louisiana elections. Variables employed in the four population datasets are: sex, age, race, and partisan registration. In addition to the four statewide population data sets, a survey of 1,902 voters who voted in the Louisiana 2016 U.S. presidential election was conducted to capture the variables: level of education, household income, marital status, and political party identification. Five binary regression analyses reveal that contrary to rational choice theory, a convenience effect manifests where sex, age, race, party registration, and level of education are all significant indicators in early voting. The best explanation of this phenomena is that political behavior is more complicated than economic behavior.


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