Cash prize draws raise electoral registration – but only temporarily

Interesting news from the government’s Behavioural Insights Team (aka the Nudge Unit). A randomised control trial was run in an unnamed London borough to test the effect of offering people an incentive to complete electoral registration forms: entry into a prize draw. Residents were split into three groups: those offered no prize draw, those offered one with a £1,000 prize and those offered one with a £5,000 prize.

The result? Offering a prize increased registration in the short-term, but in the long-term it simply sped up registration rather than increased it:

At the end of the trial period, we found that the lottery incentive was effective, increasing registrations to 46.2% in the £1,000 condition compared to 44.7% in the control group.

Although the £5,000 condition increased registrations a little more, to 46.6%, this difference was not statistically significant– although the £1,000 lottery was more cost effective for the local authority.

After the local authority had carried out its door to door canvass, there were no differences between the three groups – showing that the lottery made people register faster, saving the local authority money, but did not change the overall rates of voter registration.

Electoral registration lottery test results


Hat-tip: Daisy Benson.