Negative Vote Buying and the Secret Ballot
University of California, Berkeley - Economic Analysis & Policy Group
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
Date posted: November 11, 2010
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