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American Economic Journal: Economic Policy: Vol. 1 No. 1 (February 2009)

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Who Misvotes? The Effect of Differential Cognition Costs on Election Outcomes

Article Citation

Shue, Kelly, and Erzo F. P. Luttmer. 2009. "Who Misvotes? The Effect of Differential Cognition Costs on Election Outcomes." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy, 1(1): 229-57.

DOI: 10.1257/pol.1.1.229

Abstract

If voters have negligible cognition costs, ballot layout should not affect election outcomes. We explore deviations from rational voting using quasi-random variation in candidate name placement on ballots from the 2003 California recall election. We find that minor candidates' vote shares almost double when their names are adjacent to the names of major candidates. All else equal, vote share gains are larger in precincts with higher percentages of poorly educated, poor, or third-party voters. A major candidate that disproportionally attracts voters from such precincts faces an electoral disadvantage. We also explore which voting technology platforms and brands mitigate misvoting. (JEL D72)

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Authors

Shue, Kelly (Harvard U)
Luttmer, Erzo F. P. (Harvard U and IZA)

JEL Classifications

D72: Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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