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The Effect of the Secret Ballot on Voter Turnout Rates


  • Heckelman, J C


Secrecy in the voting process eliminated an important motivation for voting. No longer able to verify the voters' choices, political parties stopped offering payments in return for votes. Within the rational voter framework, it will be shown that these payments were a prime impetus for people to vote. Without a vote market to cover their voting costs, many voters were rational to stay away from the polls. This hypothesis is supported through a series of empirical tests culminating in a multivariate legislative regression. When other electoral laws are controlled for, the secret ballot accounts for 7 percentage points lower gubernatorial turnout. Copyright 1995 by Kluwer Academic Publishers

Suggested Citation

  • Heckelman, J C, 1995. "The Effect of the Secret Ballot on Voter Turnout Rates," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 82(1-2), pages 107-124, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:82:y:1995:i:1-2:p:107-24

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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Stephen Knack, 2000. "Deterring Voter Registration Through Juror Selection Practices: Evidence from Survey Data," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(1), pages 49-62, April.
    2. Toke Aidt & Peter Jensen, 2013. "Democratization and the size of government: evidence from the long 19th century," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 157(3), pages 511-542, December.
    3. John R. Lott & Jr. & Lawrence W. Kenny, 1999. "Did Women's Suffrage Change the Size and Scope of Government?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1163-1198, December.
    4. Alois Stutzer & Lukas Kienast, 2005. "Demokratische Beteiligung und Staatsausgaben: Die Auswirkungen des Frauenstimmrechts," Swiss Journal of Economics and Statistics (SJES), Swiss Society of Economics and Statistics (SSES), vol. 141(IV), pages 617-650, December.
    5. Aidt, T.S. & Jensen, P.S., 2012. "From Open to Secret Ballot: Vote Buying and Modernization," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 1221, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
    6. Vegas, E & Ganimian, A. J., 2013. "Theory and Evidence on Teacher Policies in Developed and Developing Countries," Working Paper 104291, Harvard University OpenScholar.
    7. Garey C. Durden & Richard J. Cebula & Patricia Gaynor, 2007. "The Impact of Social Conditioning (Internal Motivation) on the Probability of Voting," Working Papers 07-05, Department of Economics, Appalachian State University.
    8. Richard J. Cebula & Garey C. Durden & Patricia E. Gaynor, 2008. "The Impact of the Repeat-Voting-Habit Persistence Phenomenon on the Probability of Voting in Presidential Elections," Southern Economic Journal, Southern Economic Association, vol. 75(2), pages 429-440, October.
    9. Suresh Naidu, 2012. "Suffrage, Schooling, and Sorting in the Post-Bellum U.S. South," NBER Working Papers 18129, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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