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Who Misvotes? The Effect of Differential Cognition Costs on Election Outcomes

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  • Kelly Shue
  • Erzo F. P. Luttmer

Abstract

If voters have negligible cognition costs, ballot layout should not affect election outcomes. We explore deviations from rational voting using quasi-random variation in candidate name placement on ballots from the 2003 California recall election. We find that minor candidates' vote shares almost double when their names are adjacent to the names of major candidates. All else equal, vote share gains are larger in precincts with higher percentages of poorly educated, poor, or third-party voters. A major candidate that disproportionally attracts voters from such precincts faces an electoral disadvantage. We also explore which voting technology platforms and brands mitigate misvoting. (JEL D72)

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Economic Policy.

Volume (Year): 1 (2009)
Issue (Month): 1 (February)
Pages: 229-57

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejpol:v:1:y:2009:i:1:p:229-57

Note: DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.1.229
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  1. Phillip Garner & Enrico Spolare, 2001. "Why Chads? Determinants of Voting Equipment Use in the United States," Working Papers 2001-26, Brown University, Department of Economics.
  2. Xavier Gabaix & John C. Driscoll & David Laibson & Sumit Agarwal, 2008. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Lifecycle," 2008 Meeting Papers 322, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  3. Brigitte C. Madrian & Dennis F. Shea, 2001. "THE POWER OF SUGGESTION: INERTIA IN 401(k) PARTICIPATION AND SAVINGS BEHAVIOR," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 116(4), pages 1149-1187, November.
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  6. Ho, Daniel E. & Imai, Kosuke, 2006. "Randomization Inference With Natural Experiments: An Analysis of Ballot Effects in the 2003 California Recall Election," Journal of the American Statistical Association, American Statistical Association, vol. 101, pages 888-900, September.
  7. Richard H. Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save More Tomorrow (TM): Using Behavioral Economics to Increase Employee Saving," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 112(S1), pages S164-S187, February.
  8. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2005. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," CeRP Working Papers 46, Center for Research on Pensions and Welfare Policies, Turin (Italy).
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  10. David Card & Enrico Moretti, 2007. "Does Voting Technology Affect Election Outcomes? Touch-screen Voting and the 2004 Presidential Election," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(4), pages 660-673, November.
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Cited by:
  1. Esteve-Volart, Berta & Bagues, Manuel, 2012. "Are women pawns in the political game? Evidence from elections to the Spanish Senate," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 96(3), pages 387-399.
  2. Stefano DellaVigna, 2009. "Psychology and Economics: Evidence from the Field," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 315-72, June.
  3. Lin, C.-Y. Cynthia & Muelegger, Erich, 2007. "Using Approximations to Competitors’ Private Information: An Application of Cognitive Costs to Strategic Behavior," Working Paper Series rwp07-025, Harvard University, John F. Kennedy School of Government.
  4. Nattavudh Powdthavee & Paul Dolan, Robert Metcalfe, 2008. "Electing Happiness: Does Happiness Effect Voting and do Elections Affect Happiness," Discussion Papers 08/30, Department of Economics, University of York.
  5. Xavier Gabaix & John C. Driscoll & David Laibson & Sumit Agarwal, 2008. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Lifecycle," 2008 Meeting Papers 322, Society for Economic Dynamics.
  6. Christian Bredemeier, 2010. "Imperfect Information and the Meltzer-Richard Hypothesis," Ruhr Economic Papers 0213, Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wirtschaftsforschung, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Universität Dortmund, Universität Duisburg-Essen.
  7. Sumit Agarwal & John C. Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2009. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions over the Life Cycle and Implications for Regulation," Brookings Papers on Economic Activity, Economic Studies Program, The Brookings Institution, vol. 40(2 (Fall)), pages 51-117.

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