Do Perceptions of Ballot Secrecy Influence Turnout? Results from a Field Experiment
AbstractAlthough the secret ballot has long been secured as a legal matter in the United States, formal secrecy protections are not equivalent to convincing citizens that they may vote privately and without fear of reprisal. We present survey evidence that those who have not previously voted are particularly likely to voice doubts about the secrecy of the voting process. We then report results from a field experiment where we provided registered voters with information about ballot secrecy protections prior to the 2010 general election. We find that these letters increased turnout for registered citizens without records of previous turnout, but did not appear to influence the behavior of citizens who had previously voted. These results suggest that although the secret ballot is a long-standing institution in the United States, providing basic information about ballot secrecy can affect the decision to participate to an important degree.
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Bibliographic InfoPaper provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Working Papers with number 17673.
Date of creation: Dec 2011
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Find related papers by JEL classification:
- H0 - Public Economics - - General
- H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
- Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General
This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:
- NEP-ALL-2012-01-03 (All new papers)
- NEP-CDM-2012-01-03 (Collective Decision-Making)
- NEP-EXP-2012-01-03 (Experimental Economics)
- NEP-POL-2012-01-03 (Positive Political Economics)
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- Jac C. Heckelman & Andrew J. Yates, 2002. "Incumbency preservation through electoral legislation: The case of the secret ballot," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 3(1), pages 47-57, 03.
- Alan Gerber & Donald Green & Ron Shachar, 2003. "Voting may be habit forming: Evidence from a randomized field experiment," Natural Field Experiments 00251, The Field Experiments Website.
- Blumenthal, Marsha & Christian, Charles W. & Slemrod, Joel, 2001. "Do Normative Appeals Affect Tax Compliance? Evidence from a Controlled Experiment in Minnesota," National Tax Journal, National Tax Association, vol. 54(n. 1), pages 125-38, March Cit.
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