The Donation Booth: Mandating Donor Anonymity to Disrupt the Market for Political Influence
53 Pages Posted: 17 Sep 1997
Date Written: September 1997
The privacy of the voting booth is now a core feature of our democracy. But surprisingly the secret ballot only became firmly entrenched in America toward the end of the nineteenth century: "Before this reform, people could buy your vote and hold you to your bargain by watching you at the polling place." Voting booth privacy disrupts the economics of vote buying -- making it much more difficult for candidates to buy votes because at the end of the day they can never be sure who voted for them.
We can harness similar benefits by creating a "donation booth" -- a screen that forces donors to funnel campaign contributions through blind trusts. Like the voting booth, the donation booth would keep candidates from learning the identity of their supporters. Mandating anonymous donations -- through a system of blind trusts -- would make it harder for candidates to sell access or influence, because they would never know that the donor had paid the price.
JEL Classification: D70
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation