Abstract: Contemporary election reforms that are purported to increase or decrease turnout tend to have negligible effects on election outcomes. We offer an analytical framework to explain why. Contrary to heated political rhetoric, election policies have small effects on outcomes because they tend to target small shares of the electorate, have a small effect on turnout, and/or affect voters who are relatively balanced in their partisanship. After developing this framework, we address how the findings bear on minority voting rights. We then show that countermobilization from political parties cannot explain the small effects of election laws. We explain that even when a state passes multiple policies at the same time, the reforms will still only have a marginal effect on turnout and an ambiguous effect on who wins. Finally, we explain what policies should raise alarm about affecting outcomes.


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