Illicit Tactics as Substitutes: Election Fraud, Ballot Reform and Contested Congressional Elections in the United States, 1860- 1930

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


What is the relationship between ballot reforms and electoral malpractice? This article contributes to the growing comparative politics literature on the causes of election fraud in democratizing countries using the case of the 19th-century United States. We examine the adoption of the Australian ballot and disenfranchisement laws, and estimate their effects on multiple types of election fraud. Using a new measure of fraud in elections to the House of Representatives from 1860 to 1930, we find that the Australian ballot and disenfranchisement measures reduced vote-buying and voter intimidation. However, we further find that the Australian ballot had an “iatrogenic effect” of increasing registration and ballot fraud. Voting secrecy therefore led to substitution of one illicit electoral tactic for another.


External organisations
  • Stanford University
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Political Science
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)665-696
JournalComparative Political Studies
Issue number5
Early online date2016
Publication statusPublished - 2017
Publication categoryResearch

Related projects

Jan Teorell

Swedish Research Council


Project: ResearchIndividual research project

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