Publication Date



Helms School of Government


International Relations


Compulsory Voting, Mandatory Voting, Voto Obligatorio, Vote Buying, Corruption, Latin America, Latin American Politics, Democracy Studies, Political Philosophy


Comparative Politics | Latin American Studies | Political Theory


Among modern democracies, compulsory voting (CV) is institutionalized most prevalently in Latin America. Latin American politics have a long, turbulent history, and governments in the region have some of the highest rates of political corruption in the world among democracies, especially electoral fraud. This study investigates the connection between these two phenomena. Secondary empirical quantitative and qualitative research of political and cultural behavior are analyzed according to a rational choice theory decision paradigm. Demographic, experimental, and theoretical data regarding the effects of CV laws are considered in light of possible incentives and disincentives for engaging in vote-buying. This study inductively argues that compulsory voting increases the prevalence of vote-buying in Latin American democracies due to the existence of regional clientelist networks that target poor and weakly opposed voters, the demographics among whom turnout is most increased when voting is made compulsory. These findings bear on the future of democratic practices and institutions in the West for the twenty-first century.