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Negative Vote Buying and the Secret Ballot

John Morgan

University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group

Felix Várdy

International Monetary Fund (IMF)

November 9, 2010

We offer a model of “negative vote buying” – paying voters to abstain. While negative vote buying is feasible under the open ballot, it is never optimal. In contrast, a combination of positive and negative vote buying is optimal under the secret ballot: Lukewarm supporters are paid to show up at the polls, while lukewarm opponents are paid to stay home. Paradoxically, the imposition of the secret ballot increases the amount of vote buying – a greater fraction of the electorate vote against their intrinsic preferences than under the open ballot. Moreover, the secret ballot may reduce the costs of buying an election.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 41

Keywords: negative vote buying, lobbying, abstention, secret ballot, elections

JEL Classification: D71, D72, D78

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Date posted: November 11, 2010  

Suggested Citation

Morgan, John and Várdy, Felix, Negative Vote Buying and the Secret Ballot (November 9, 2010). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1706490 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1706490

Contact Information

John Morgan
University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group ( email )
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States
510-642-2669 (Phone)
810-885-5959 (Fax)
HOME PAGE: http://faculty.haas.berkeley.edu/rjmorgan/
Felix Várdy (Contact Author)
International Monetary Fund (IMF) ( email )
700 19th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20431
United States
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