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Faculty of Economics

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Aidt, T. S. and Jensen, P.

From Open to Secret Ballot: Vote Buying and Modernization


Abstract: The secret ballot is one of the cornerstones of democracy. We contend that the historical process of modernization caused the switch from open to secret ballot with the underlying mechanism being that income growth, urbanization, and rising education standards undermined vote markets and made electoral corruption uneconomical. We undertake event history studies of ballot reform in Western Europe and the Americas during the 19th and 20th centuries to establish that modernization was systematically related to ballot reform. We study electoral turnout before and after ballot reform amongst the US states and British parliamentary constituencies to substantiate the hypothesis that modernization made vote buying uneconomical.

Keywords: Secret ballot, modernization, electoral turnout, democratization

JEL Codes: D70 P16

Author links: Toke Aidt  


Open Access Link:

Published Version of Paper: From Open to Secret Ballot: Vote Buying and Modernization, Aidt, T. S. and Jensen,P. S., Comparative Political Studies (2017)

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