Professor Isabela Mares

From Open Secrets to Secret Voting: Democratic Electoral Reforms and Voter Autonomy

Isabela Mares

Cambridge University Press | Cambridge Series in Comparative Politics

The expansion of suffrage and the introduction of elections after authoritarian interludes are momentous political changes that represent only the first step in the process of democratization. In the absence of institutions and guarantees that protect the electoral autonomy of voters against a range of actors who seek to influence their votes, these rights can be hollow promises. This book examines the adoption of electoral reforms that protected the autonomy of voters during elections and sought to minimize undue electoral influence. Empirically, the book focuses on the adoption of reforms protection electoral secrecy in Imperial Germany during the period between 1870 and 1912. The books shows that the political impetus for changes in electoral institutions orginated with politicians that faced relatively high costs of electoral intimidation and identifies the economic and political factors that affect such electoral costs.


“An admirable piece of work that combines impressive knowledge of German nineteenth century history with skillful archival research and an astonishing command of quantitative methods. I find the idea of voter intimidation and the costs of voter repression aas leading terms in a local-level quantitative analysis of electoral practices and reforms in an emerging nation-state a major step forward in the analysis of institutional change. The way the book moves between qualitative narratives of historical local conditions and sophisticated quantitative analyses is exemplary and sets a standard for social science taking history seriously.” — Wolfgang Streeck, Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies


Book: The Politics of Social Risk
Book: From Open Secrets to Secret Voting
Book: Conditionality and Coercion