Devashish Chandra

Devashish Chandra

MPP 2019 BIG Fellows 2018-19 PAE: Improving Voter Turnout in the USA Client:

Dev is currently working with Michigan’s Department of Health and Human Services on improving timely connections to mental health services for children in foster care. Dev is a 2019 MPP graduate from Harvard Kennedy School. He is originally from Uttarakhand, India. Prior to HKS, Dev worked in the public sector in India with a focus on education. At HKS, Dev focused on behavioral sciences, writing his master’s thesis on “Applying Behavioral Science to boost voter turnout in the US.” Aside from behavioral science, Dev loves thinking about tech and product management and its intersection with public policy. He has also worked with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to develop an online platform for capacity building of teachers. Find Dev on LinkedIn.

PAE: Improving Voter Turnout in the USA | Client:

The PAE explores how behavioral science can be applied by peer mobilization campaigns to boost voter turnout. It focuses on non- activists, i.e. citizens who vote but do not volunteer or donate to campaigns. The problem it aims to tackle is defined as “Non-activists vote in elections, but do not encourage their peers to vote.” It finds that there is indeed a significant gap between the intention of non-activists to encourage their peers to vote and their action, which campaigns should aim to address. Results also indicate that this gap is likely to be more pronounced amongst non-activists who identify as Democrats.

Four pertinent behavioral barriers cause inaction: status-quo bias, choice overload, present bias, and hassle factors that show up at different stages of the behavior. Recommendations suggest use of six design principles: 1) Use framing: focus on making the ease of performing the task salient; 2) Reduce choice by making the ask concrete; 3) Categorize choice by indicating categories of peers (friends, family, neighbors, etc.) for non-activists to choose from; 4) Use reminders to nudge procrastinators; 5) Simplify the process by providing targeted information to non-activists which they can easily share with their peers; 6) Provide personalized support through volunteers.