Journal of Official Statistics, Vol.17, No.4, 2001. pp. 479498

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What Leads to Voting Overreports? Contrasts of Overreporters to Validated Voters and Admitted Nonvoters in the American National Election Studies

Clarifying inconsistencies in the literature, seven years of data from the American National Election Studies was combined to examine variables that are predictive of vote overreporting. Social predictors include respondent age, level of education, race, and sex. Political attitudes include degree of political efficacy, caring about the outcome, interest, strength of party identification, and expressed knowledge. Contextual variables include interview week since the election, whether the survey was conducted during a presidential or nonpresidential election, and the election year. Overreporters are situated in between validated voters and admitted nonvoters in their age, and they are predominantly nonwhite. Overreporters are closer to validated voters than to admitted nonvoters in level of education and in strength of political attitudes. Overreporting is due to motivational concerns expressed as intentional deception in some respondents, and to motivated misremembering in others, as evidenced by its increased likelihood to occur the further the interview is from election day.

Survey reports; reported turnout; social desirability; memory; source monitoring.

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