Postelection surveys consistently overestimate turnout because of the overrepresentation of voters and the overreporting of nonvoters. The problem of overrepresentation is primarily a consequence of nonresponse, which results from the higher propensity of voters to participate in surveys (Sciarini & Goldberg, 2017; Voogt & Saris, 2003). Overreporting is a measurement bias caused by the tendency of nonvoters to claim that they have voted. This research attempts to resolve a long-standing contradiction in the literature on turnout overreporters.
Survey respondents who voted at least intermittently if not habitually have been considered prime suspects for overreporting (Belli, Traugott, & Beckmann, 2001; Tittle & Hill, 1967). These respondents are under suspicion because their voting experiences can be misleading when they are recalling an election from which they happened to abstain (Abelson, Loftus, & Greenwald, 1992), and their voting motivations (e.g., to conform to the norms of voting, or to avoid guilt feelings about abstention) can lead them to overreport (Bernstein, Chadha, & Montjoy, 2001; Brenner, 2012). This argument has been supported by numerous studies, which reported that overreporters more closely resemble voters than nonvoters on various characteristics (Ansolabehere & Hersh, 2011, 2012; Belli et al., 2001; Hill & Hurley, 1984; Kitt & Gleicher, 1950; Sigelman, 1982; Silver, Anderson, & Abramson, 1986; Tittle & Hill, 1967; Tourangeau, Groves, & Redline, 2010; Traugott & Presser, 1992; Weiss, 1968). However, evidence has not been conclusive because of lack of direct observations on the turnout histories of overreporters.