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Invalid Ballots and Electoral Competition

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  • Gani Aldashev
  • Giovanni Mastrobuoni

Abstract

In close elections, a sufficiently high share of invalid ballots - if driven by votermistakes or electoral fraud - can jeopardize the electoral outcome. We study how thecloseness of electoral race relates to the share of invalid ballots, under the traditionalpaper-ballot hand-counted voting technology. Using a large dataset from the Italianparliamentary elections in 1994-2001, we find a strong robust negative relationshipbetween the margin of victory of the leading candidate over the nearest rival andthe share of invalid ballots. We argue that this relationship is not driven by votermistakes, protest, or electoral fraud. The explanation that garners most supportis that of rational allocation of effort by election officers and party representatives,with higher rates of detection of invalid ballots in close elections.

Suggested Citation

  • Gani Aldashev & Giovanni Mastrobuoni, 2015. "Invalid Ballots and Electoral Competition," Working Papers ECARES ECARES 2015-39, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
  • Handle: RePEc:eca:wpaper:2013/219783
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kelly Shue & Erzo F. P. Luttmer, 2009. "Who Misvotes? The Effect of Differential Cognition Costs on Election Outcomes," American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, American Economic Association, pages 229-257.
    2. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2008. "Land and Power: Theory and Evidence from Chile," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1737-1765.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Timothy Feddersen & Alvaro Sandroni, 2006. "A Theory of Participation in Elections," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1271-1282.
    6. Jean-Marie Baland & James A. Robinson, 2008. "Land and Power: Theory and Evidence from Chile," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, pages 1737-1765.
    7. Knack, Stephen & Kropf, Martha, 2003. "Voided Ballot in the 1996 Presidential Election: A County-Level Analysis," MPRA Paper 24895, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Maria De Paola & Vincenzo Scoppa, 2012. "The Causal Impact Of Closeness On Electoral Participation Exploiting The Italian Dual Ballot System," Working Papers 201203, Università della Calabria, Dipartimento di Economia, Statistica e Finanza "Giovanni Anania" - DESF.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    vote counting; invalid ballots; election officers; party representatives;

    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior
    • D73 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Bureaucracy; Administrative Processes in Public Organizations; Corruption

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