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’ voteshares almost double when their names are adjacent to the names of major candidates. All else equal, voteshare 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.


Shue, Kelly, and Erzo F.P. Luttmer. "Who Misvotes? The Effect of Differential Cognition Costs on Election Outcomes." American Economic Journal: Economic Policy 1.1 (February 2009): 229-257.