IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/p/nbr/nberwo/17673.html
   My bibliography  Save this paper

Do Perceptions of Ballot Secrecy Influence Turnout? Results from a Field Experiment

Author

Listed:
  • Alan S. Gerber
  • Gregory A. Huber
  • David Doherty
  • Conor M. Dowling
  • Seth J. Hill

Abstract

Although 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.

Suggested Citation

  • Alan S. Gerber & Gregory A. Huber & David Doherty & Conor M. Dowling & Seth J. Hill, 2011. "Do Perceptions of Ballot Secrecy Influence Turnout? Results from a Field Experiment," NBER Working Papers 17673, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17673
    Note: PE POL
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.nber.org/papers/w17673.pdf
    Download Restriction: no

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. 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, March.
    2. 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.
    3. repec:cup:apsrev:v:99:y:2005:i:03:p:315-325_05 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:96:y:2002:i:01:p:41-56_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. 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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • H0 - Public Economics - - General
    • H1 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government
    • Z0 - Other Special Topics - - General

    NEP fields

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    Statistics

    Access and download statistics

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:17673. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: () or (Joanne Lustig). General contact details of provider: http://edirc.repec.org/data/nberrus.html .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.