Econometrics & Applied Economics Seminar - Shiko Maruyama (University Technology Sydney)

Room 3.15, Level 6, FBE Building, 111 Barry Street, Carlton


Title: Why Doesn’t Everyone Vote? Evidence from Compulsory Elections in Australia by Shiko Maruyama and Eamon McGinn

Abstract: Theories of voter behavior predict that voters are more likely to vote in more competitive elections, when there are fewer other voters and also when there are fewer candidates listed on the ballot. In this paper, we quantify the importance of these three determinants in a single statistical model. We study voting data from Australia where, despite compulsory voting, around 5-6% of votes are “informal” and do not count towards the result. We make use of a natural experiment that arises in the Australian electoral system from administrative changes to electorate boundaries. We generally find no statistically significant effect of the competitiveness of an election or the number of voters in an electorate on the rate of informal voting. Rather, we find that more candidates on the ballot results in higher rates of informal voting. These findings are robust across model specifications and subgroups within the data including across levels of education. Competitiveness does have the expected effect for areas with the highest rates of education.