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Who Votes by Post? Understanding the Drivers of Postal Voting in the 2019 British General Election

Townsley, Joshua; Turnbull-Dugarte, Stuart J.; Trumm, Siim; Milazzo, Caitlin

Who Votes by Post? Understanding the Drivers of Postal Voting in the 2019 British General Election Thumbnail


Joshua Townsley

Stuart J. Turnbull-Dugarte

Associate Professor


While most voters in democratic countries still cast their ballot on election day, the proportion of the electorate which opts for postal voting has been steadily, and often dramatically, increasing. This transformation in electoral politics, however, is under-researched, particularly with regards to the motivations underlying the decision to cast a postal vote. In this paper, we analyse the factors that drive an individual to vote by post rather than at the polling station. Using data from the 2019 British Election Study, we show, among other findings, that citizens for whom in-person voting would entail higher costs, such as the elderly and disabled, are more likely to opt for the convenience of postal voting. In addition, we find that partisans are unlikely to vote by post, suggesting that they derive greater expressive benefits from voting in a public setting. Finally, our analysis demonstrates that constituency marginality matters when it comes to opting for postal voting: citizens in more competitive constituencies are significantly more likely to ensure their votes by casting their ballots by post rather than on election day.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Aug 16, 2021
Online Publication Date Sep 1, 2021
Publication Date 2023-01
Deposit Date Aug 27, 2021
Publicly Available Date Sep 2, 2023
Journal Parliamentary Affairs
Print ISSN 0031-2290
Electronic ISSN 1460-2482
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 76
Issue 1
Pages 43-61
Keywords Law; Sociology and Political Science
Public URL
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