Rocking the vote using personalized messages to motivate voting among young adults

Diana Burgess, Beth Haney, Mark Snyder, John L. Sullivan, John E. Transue

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


We examined a nationwide effort to encourage young adults to vote in the 1996 U.S. presidential election. During the year before the election, individuals were given the chance to sign and self-address one of two kinds of postcards pledging to vote; these cards were mailed back to the individuals within 2 weeks prior to the election. It is important to note that some individuals completed pledge cards that prompted them to provide their own reason for voting by completing the sentence, "I will vote because _ ," whereas other individuals completed pledge cards that did not contain this sentence prompt. We conducted a large-scale survey of individuals who filled out pledge cards and determined that receiving a pledge card with the sentence prompt had a positive influence on voting. Moreover, this effect was found above and beyond demographic and psychological predictors of voting. Implications of these findings are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)29-52
Number of pages24
JournalPublic Opinion Quarterly
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2000

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
DIANA BURGESS is at General Mills, Minneapolis, MN. BETH HANEY is at the Minnesota Department of Human Services. MARK SNYDER is in the Department of Psychology at the University of Minnesota. JOHN L. SULLIVAN and JOHN E. TRANSUE are in the Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. This research was supported in part by a grant from Rock the Vote, and we would like to thank this organization for their cooperation in conducting this research. In addition, we would like to thank Wendy Rahn, Melissa Sullivan, Brandon Sullivan, Sara Buckner, Don Gramenz, Marwa Ibrahim, Amos Magee, Syana Mukadam, and Kirsten Transue for their assistance in conducting the study. We would also like to thank Eric Lawrence for methodological advice. Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mark Snyder, Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55455; e-mail: The ordering of authors is alphabetical.


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