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Negative Vote Buying and the Secret Ballot

John Morgan and Felix Vardy ()

The Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, 2012, vol. 28, issue 4, 818-849

Abstract: We offer a model of "negative vote buying"--paying voters to abstain. Although negative vote buying is feasible under the open ballot, it is never optimal. In contrast, a combination of positive and negative vote buying is optimal under the secret ballot: Lukewarm supporters are paid to show up at the polls, whereas lukewarm opponents are paid to stay home. Paradoxically, the imposition of the secret ballot increases the amount of vote buying--a greater fraction of the electorate vote against their intrinsic preferences than under the open ballot. Moreover, the secret ballot may reduce the costs of buying an election. The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Yale University. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email:, Oxford University Press.

Date: 2012
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