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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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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/articles.php?doi=10.1257/pol.1.1.229
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File URL: http://www.aeaweb.org/aej-policy/data/2007-0065_data.zip
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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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References

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Michael S. Rashes, 2001. "Massively Confused Investors Making Conspicuously Ignorant Choices (MCI-MCIC)," Journal of Finance, American Finance Association, vol. 56(5), pages 1911-1927, October.
  4. Phillip Garner & Enrico Spolaore, 2005. "Why chads? Determinants of voting equipment use in the United States," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 123(3), pages 363-392, June.
  5. 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.
  6. Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 2003. "Voided Ballot in the 1996 Presidential Election: A County-Level Analysis," MPRA Paper 24895, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  7. David A. Wise, 1989. "The Economics of Aging," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number wise89-1, octubre-d.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. Richard Thaler & Shlomo Benartzi, 2004. "Save more tomorrow: Using behavioral economics to increase employee saving," Natural Field Experiments 00337, The Field Experiments Website.
  11. James J. Choi & David Laibson & Brigitte C. Madrian & Andrew Metrick, 2004. "For Better or for Worse: Default Effects and 401(k) Savings Behavior," NBER Chapters, in: Perspectives on the Economics of Aging, pages 81-126 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Herbert Simon & Lindsay McSweeney, 2010. "A Behavioral Model of Rational Choice," CPI Journal, Competition Policy International, vol. 6.
  13. John A. List & David Lucking-Reiley, 2002. "Bidding Behavior and Decision Costs in Field Experiments," Economic Inquiry, Western Economic Association International, vol. 40(4), pages 611-619, October.
  14. Daniel J. Benjamin & Sebastian A. Brown & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2006. "Who is “Behavioral”? Cognitive Ability and Anomalous Preferences," Levine's Working Paper Archive 122247000000001334, David K. Levine.
  15. Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 2002. "Who Uses Inferior Voting Technology?," MPRA Paper 27241, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  16. Annamaria Lusardi & Olivia S. Mitchell, 2006. "Financial Literacy and Planning: Implications for Retirement Wellbeing," DNB Working Papers 078, Netherlands Central Bank, Research Department.
  17. John Conlisk, 1996. "Why Bounded Rationality?," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 34(2), pages 669-700, June.
  18. Thomas S. Dee, 2007. "Technology and Voter Intent: Evidence from the California Recall Election," The Review of Economics and Statistics, MIT Press, vol. 89(4), pages 674-683, November.
  19. Sendhil Mullainathan & Richard H. Thaler, 2000. "Behavioral Economics," NBER Working Papers 7948, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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Citations

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Cited by:
  1. Sumit Agarwal & John C. Driscoll & Xavier Gabaix & David Laibson, 2007. "The Age of Reason: Financial Decisions Over the Lifecycle," NBER Working Papers 13191, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  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. 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.
  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. Berta Esteve-Volart & Manuel F. Bagües, 2009. "Are Women Pawns in the Political Game? Evidence from Elections to the Spanish Senate," Working Papers 2009-30, FEDEA.
  6. Christian Bredemeier, 2014. "Imperfect information and the Meltzer-Richard hypothesis," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 159(3), pages 561-576, June.
  7. 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.

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