Randomized Ballot Order Can Increase Invalid Votes: Evidence from Australia

29 Pages Posted: 7 Aug 2016 Last revised: 9 Sep 2019

See all articles by Yusaku Horiuchi

Yusaku Horiuchi

Dartmouth College - Department of Government

Alexandra Lange

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

Date Written: September 7, 2019

Abstract

Randomized ballot order of electoral candidates minimizes unfair advantages for candidates with favorable positions on a ballot. However, it may encourage voter errors because it also minimizes information cues otherwise provided to voters, such as the order of candidates by their strength (e.g., vote shares in the previous election) or by their names (e.g., alphabetical order). We examine this previously uninvestigated effect of ballot-order randomization on voter errors using nearly 60,000 polling-place level data from seven Australian House of Representatives elections held between 1996 and 2013. Specifically, we show that the larger the deviation of the actual ballot order from a hypothetical ballot order that could be designed to help voters accurately fill out their ballot, the larger the invalid vote percentage. The estimated effects are relatively small, however, compared to the effects on the vote shares of candidates listed first on the ballot (King and Leigh, 2009). We call for further inquiry into the desirable and undesirable effects of ballot-order randomization.

Keywords: ballot order, informal vote, invalid vote, compulsory voting, Australia, natural experiment

JEL Classification: D72; C99

Suggested Citation

Horiuchi, Yusaku and Lange, Alexandra, Randomized Ballot Order Can Increase Invalid Votes: Evidence from Australia (September 7, 2019). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2817549 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2817549

Yusaku Horiuchi (Contact Author)

Dartmouth College - Department of Government ( email )

204 Silsby Hall
HB 6108
Hanover, NH 03755
United States

HOME PAGE: http://sites.dartmouth.edu/horiuchi/

Alexandra Lange

University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

9500 Gilman Drive
Mail Code 0502
La Jolla, CA 92093-0112
United States

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