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And the Beat Goes On: Further Evidence on Voting on the Form of County Governance in the Midst of Public Corruption


  • Gökhan R. Karahan
  • R. Morris Coats
  • William F. Shughart


'Operation Pretense,' an FBI sting operation conducted in Mississippi during the 1980s, uncovered widespread corruption among the state's county supervisors. The revelations prompted the Mississippi legislature to authorize including on the November 1988 ballot a measure asking voters whether they favored switching to a more centralized 'unit system' of county governance or instead retaining the decentralized 'beat system' then in place in all but two of the state's 82 counties. We examine voters' decisions to participate in that election, in which 47 counties returned majorities for the unit system and 35 counties opted for the status quo. Controlling for participation in the 1988 presidential race and other relevant factors, we find that turnout rates for the beat-unit choice were positively correlated with supervisor corruption. We also find that the corrupt counties' higher voter turnouts were driven mainly by supporters of the corruption-prone beat system. Copyright 2009 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Suggested Citation

  • Gökhan R. Karahan & R. Morris Coats & William F. Shughart, 2009. "And the Beat Goes On: Further Evidence on Voting on the Form of County Governance in the Midst of Public Corruption," Kyklos, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 62(1), pages 65-84, February.
  • Handle: RePEc:bla:kyklos:v:62:y:2009:i:1:p:65-84

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Gökhan Karahan & R. Coats & William Shughart, 2006. "Corrupt political jurisdictions and voter participation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 126(1), pages 87-106, January.
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    10. Gökhan R. Karahan & Laura Razzolini & William F. Shughart II, 2002. "Centralized versus decentralized decision-making in a county government setting," Economics of Governance, Springer, vol. 3(2), pages 101-115, July.
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    Cited by:

    1. Gary M. Pecquet & Gokhan R. Karahan & R. Andrew Luccasen & Christopher J. Boudreaux & Shane Sanders, 2016. "In memoriam: R. Morris Coats, a second wave public choice scholar in camouflage," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 166(3), pages 379-387, March.
    2. Kauder, Björn & Potrafke, Niklas, 2015. "Just hire your spouse! Evidence from a political scandal in Bavaria," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 38(C), pages 42-54.

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