The Cost of Voting and The Cost of Votes

New article in Journal of Politics by Mogens K. Justesen, Anders Woller, and Jacob Gerner Hariri

Mogens Kamp Justesen
In new democracies, political parties often use clientelist strategies to mobilize voters during elections. In this paper, we show that political machines systematically use vote buying to target voters with low costs of voting. We employ a geo-coded survey of 3,192 respondents collected immediately after the municipal elections of 2016 in South Africa. We combine the survey data with administrative data on the  geographical location of more than 22,600 polling stations. Our identification strategy exploits the quasi-random assignment of distances to vote generated by voting district boundaries in South Africa. This allows us to proxy the cost of voting with distance to the polling station and estimate the causal effect of the cost of voting on parties’ use of vote buying. The results have important implications for core  assumptions concerning parties’ targeting strategies, and for how electoral institutions shape the linkage strategies parties use to mobilize political support.


The page was last edited by: Department of International Economics, Government and Business // 01/04/2023