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From Open to Secret Ballot: Vote Buying and Modernization

Author

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  • Aidt, T.S.
  • Jensen, P.S.

Abstract

The secret ballot is one of the cornerstones of democracy. We contend that the historical process of modernization caused the switch from open to secret ballot with the underlying mechanism being that income growth, urbanization, and rising education standards undermined vote markets and made electoral corruption uneconomical. We undertake event history studies of ballot reform in Western Europe and the Americas during the 19th and 20th centuries to establish that modernization was systematically related to ballot reform. We study electoral turnout before and after ballot reform amongst the US states and British parliamentary constituencies to substantiate the hypothesis that modernization made vote buying uneconomical.

Suggested Citation

  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:1221
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    File URL: http://www.econ.cam.ac.uk/research-files/repec/cam/pdf/cwpe1221.pdf
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Aidt, Toke S. & Jensen, Peter S., 2009. "The taxman tools up: An event history study of the introduction of the personal income tax," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, pages 160-175.
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    Cited by:

    1. Aidt, Toke & Asatryan, Zareh & Badalyan, Lusine & Heinemann, Friedrich, 2015. "Vote buying or (political) business (cycles) as usual?," ZEW Discussion Papers 15-017, ZEW - Zentrum für Europäische Wirtschaftsforschung / Center for European Economic Research.
    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.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Secret ballot; modernization; electoral turnout; democratization;

    JEL classification:

    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making
    • P16 - Economic Systems - - Capitalist Systems - - - Political Economy of Capitalism

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