NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Do Perceptions of Ballot Secrecy Influence Turnout? Results from a Field Experiment

Alan S. Gerber, Gregory A. Huber, David Doherty, Conor M. Dowling, Seth J. Hill

NBER Working Paper No. 17673
Issued in December 2011
NBER Program(s):   PE   POL

Although the secret ballot has long been secured as a legal matter in the United States, formal secrecy protections are not equivalent to convincing citizens that they may vote privately and without fear of reprisal. We present survey evidence that those who have not previously voted are particularly likely to voice doubts about the secrecy of the voting process. We then report results from a field experiment where we provided registered voters with information about ballot secrecy protections prior to the 2010 general election. We find that these letters increased turnout for registered citizens without records of previous turnout, but did not appear to influence the behavior of citizens who had previously voted. These results suggest that although the secret ballot is a long-standing institution in the United States, providing basic information about ballot secrecy can affect the decision to participate to an important degree.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Information about Free Papers

You should expect a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Acknowledgments

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w17673

Published: "Do Perceptions of Ballot Secrecy Influence Turnout? Results from a Field Experiment" (with Huber, Doherty, Dowling, and Seth J. Hill). 2013. American Journal of Political Science (July). DOI: 10.1111/ajps.12019

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded these:
Chong, De La O, Karlan, and Wantchekon w17679 Looking Beyond the Incumbent: The Effects of Exposing Corruption on Electoral Outcomes
Davis w17674 Prospects for Nuclear Power
Ferreira and Gyourko w17671 Does Gender Matter for Political Leadership? The Case of U.S. Mayors
Compton and Pollak w17678 Family Proximity, Childcare, and Women's Labor Force Attachment
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
Data
People
About

Support
National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us