Ballot Order in Cueless Elections: A Comparison of Municipal and Provincial Elections in Québec

Research paper by Charles Tessier, Alexandre Blanchet

Indexed on: 22 Mar '18Published on: 01 Mar '18Published in: Canadian journal of political science. Revue canadienne de science politique


This paper studies the prevalence of ballot order effects in two different types of Canadian elections which differ greatly by the strength of party cues they provide to voters. Provincial elections are best described as a typical competition between well established and institutionalized parties, hence providing voters with strong party cues. Alternatively, municipal politics provide voters with much weaker party cues. We use electoral results from recent provincial and municipal elections in Québec and find ballot order effects in municipal elections but not in provincial ones. Although ballot order effects may also be the product of alphabetic preference bias, we argue that in any case these are cognitive biases that are ultimately the product of insufficient cues that voters need in order to cast well-informed votes. The paper, therefore, sheds some light on an understudied type of election in political science.