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Effects of the Internet on Participation: Study of a Public Policy Referendum in Brazil

38 Pages Posted: 20 Apr 2016  

Paolo Spada

University of British Columbia (UBC)

Jonathan Mellon

University of Oxford - Nuffield College; University of Manchester

Tiago Peixoto

World Bank - Governance Global Practice

Fredrik M. Sjoberg

Data-Pop Alliance

Date Written: February 26, 2015

Abstract

Does online voting mobilize citizens who otherwise would not participate? During the annual participatory budgeting vote in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil -- the world's largest -- Internet voters were asked whether they would have participated had there not been an online voting option (i-voting). The study documents an 8.2 percent increase in total turn-out with the introduction of i-voting. In support of the mobilization hypothesis, unique survey data show that i-voting is mainly used by new participants rather than just for convenience by those who were already mobilized. The study also finds that age, gender, income, education, and social media usage are significant predictors of being online-only voters. Technology appears more likely to engage people who are younger, male, of higher income and educational attainment, and more frequent social media users.

Keywords: Technology Industry, Political Systems and Analysis, National Governance, ICT Policy and Strategies, Parliamentary Government

Suggested Citation

Spada, Paolo and Mellon, Jonathan and Peixoto, Tiago and Sjoberg, Fredrik M., Effects of the Internet on Participation: Study of a Public Policy Referendum in Brazil (February 26, 2015). World Bank Policy Research Working Paper No. 7204. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2571083

Paolo Spada

University of British Columbia (UBC)

2329 West Mall
Vancouver, British Columbia BC V6T 1Z4
Canada

Jonathan Mellon

University of Oxford - Nuffield College ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

University of Manchester ( email )

Oxford Road
Manchester, M13 9PL
United Kingdom

Tiago Peixoto

World Bank - Governance Global Practice ( email )

1818 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20433
United States

Fredrik Sjoberg

Data-Pop Alliance ( email )

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