Simultaneous Ballots, Cost of Voting and Turnout: A Random Natural Experiment
31 Pages Posted: 2 May 2013
Date Written: 2013
This paper uses a specificity of the French local elections to test the influence of the cost of voting on electoral turnout. For local elections, half of the constituency has to vote for a single ballot (regional election) whereas the other half votes for two ballots (departmental and regional elections). Since these two categories of constituency are randomly distinguished, this context provides the conditions of a natural experiment. The comparison of turnout rate in both types of electoral district allows us to assess in a particularly robust way the impact of the cost of voting on turnout and the reduction in these costs related to the situation of simultaneous ballots. Based on data drawn from our natural experiment, we estimate that the division in two of the unitary cost of transport gives rise to an average increase in electoral turnout that can reach 7.3 points of percentage. We also show the impact of double ballot is sensitive to spatial concentration of the population, and thus to the pooling station distribution.
Keywords: Electoral turnout, voting paradox, cost of voting, opportunity cost, natural experiment, random experiment
JEL Classification: D71
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