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Public Voting and Prosocial Behavior

Rebecca Morton () and Kai Ou

Journal of Experimental Political Science, 2019, vol. 6, issue 3, 141-158

Abstract: One argument against secret ballots is that such procedures lead to more selfish voting behavior and that public voting can increase prosocial voting and the likelihood of prosocial outcomes when voters are not subject to intimidation and coercion from outside interests. We investigate this supposition as well as voter preferences over observability in voting in this context. We find that voters are significantly more likely to choose unselfishly when voting is public. These differences in behavior advantage prosocial choices in elections (by 27%) when voting is public. Moreover, voters appear to recognize these differences and a substantial minority of voters whose selfish preference is not the prosocial choice willingly choose public voting even though the likely outcome will be costly to themselves.

Date: 2019
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