Ballots, Vote Casting Procedures and Electoral Outcomes
Tchintian, Carolina R
Jones, Mark P.
Doctor of Philosophy
This research focuses on the overlooked role that ballot design and vote casting procedure have in shaping voters and elite decisions and electoral outcomes. It seeks to understand how the different presentations of the electoral offering are critical to understanding how (and what) voters choose, as well as whether some voting options are benefited over others. The countries selected for this project (Argentina, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador and Brazil) offer the opportunity to measure a variety of outcomes affecting representation that result from ballot structure. First, using survey and observation data from El Salvador and Ecuador I analyze whether candidates’ personal attributes observed in their ballot pictures affect the probability of being elected and how this varies with other contextual information provided by the ballot such as length and crowdedness. Second, using Chilean municipal level data, I study the probability of women and incumbent candidates being elected given their location and position in the ballot and how party elites take advantage of these ballot features to increase their vote share. Third, I study how different presentations of the electoral offering affect certain parties and minorities opportunities to win votes using a quasi-experimental research design with Argentine subnational data. Finally, I show how the change in the vote casting procedure affects the level of visibility of candidates in Brazil, increasing intraparty fragmentation and disunity both at the electoral and legislative arena. Given the potential consequences of the different vote casting procedures on descriptive representation, the findings of this research would have implications on the quality of democracy. While many countries resist major electoral change, policy makers may be more willing to undergo ballot design changes to improve representation, improve accountability and the general quality of electoral democracy in a given polity.