The Effects of a ‘None of the Above’ Ballot Paper Option on Voting Behavior and Election Outcomes

31 Pages Posted: 8 Nov 2018 Last revised: 20 Mar 2019

See all articles by Attila Ambrus

Attila Ambrus

Duke University - Department of Economics

Ben Greiner

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Anita Zednik

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Date Written: March 14, 2019

Abstract

We investigate how an explicit blank vote option “None of the above” (NOTA) on the ballot paper affects voting behavior and election results in political elections where non-establishment candidates are on the ballot. We report evidence from two online field experiments conducted in the weeks preceding the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election and the 2016 Austrian run-off election for President. The two elections are special because in the U.S. election one firmly establishment candidate (Hillary Clinton) was facing a self-declared non-establishment candidate (Donald Trump), while in the Austrian election, both candidates were from outside the traditional political establishment. In our experiments we subjected participants either to the original ballot paper or to a manipulated ballot paper where we added a NOTA option. We find that participants with a protest motive, who are either unhappy with the candidate set or with the political establishment in general, choose NOTA. Introducing a NOTA option on the ballot increases participation and reduces the vote shares of non-establishment candidates.

Keywords: protest voting, expressive voting

JEL Classification: D72, C99

Suggested Citation

Ambrus, Attila and Greiner, Ben and Zednik, Anita, The Effects of a ‘None of the Above’ Ballot Paper Option on Voting Behavior and Election Outcomes (March 14, 2019). Economic Research Initiatives at Duke (ERID) Working Paper No. 277. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3280591 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3280591

Attila Ambrus (Contact Author)

Duke University - Department of Economics ( email )

100 Fuqua Drive
Durham, NC 27708-0204
United States

Ben Greiner

Vienna University of Economics and Business

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

Anita Zednik

Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, Wien 1020
Austria

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