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Effects of the Internet on Participation

The 38-page study, Effects of the Internet on Participation: Study of a Public Policy Referendum in Brazilby Paolo Spada, Jonathan Mellon, Tiago Peixoto and Fredrik M. Sjoberg, was published February 2015. It explores how online voting increases voter participation during an annual participatory budgeting vote in Brazil and what factors were influential for citizen engagement. You can download the paper here.

From the Abstract

Does online voting mobilize citizens who otherwise would not participate? During the annual participatory budgeting vote in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil — the world’s largest — Internet voters were asked whether they would have participated had there not been an online voting option (i-voting). The study documents an 8.2 percent increase in total turn-out with the introduction of i-voting. In support of the mobilization hypothesis, unique survey data show that i-voting is mainly used by new participants rather than just for convenience by those who were already mobilized. The study also finds that age, gender, income, education, and social media usage are significant predictors of being online-only voters. Technology appears more likely to engage people who are younger, male, of higher income and educational attainment, and more frequent social media users.

More about Paolo Spada
Paolo is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. He specializes in comparative public policy, with a focus on policy diffusion, policy analysis and institutional design. Check out his site here.

More about Jonathan Mellon
Jonathan is a Postdoctoral Fellow at University of Oxford – Nuffield College, working on the British Election Study. He also works for the World Bank as a data scientist analyzing online civic engagement in developed and developing country contexts, for the Organisation for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, running statistical analysis of election observer reports, and for the BBC on their election night coverage. Check out his wordpress here and follow on Twitter: @jon_mellon.

More about Tiago Peixoto
Having worked for 10 years as a practitioner and researcher in the field of ICT and participatory governance, Tiago is currently an open government specialist at the ICT4Gov program of the World Bank’s Open Government cluster. Read his blog, DemocracySpot, which is focused on the intersection of participation and technology. Follow on Twitter: @participatory.

More about Fredrik M. Sjoberg
Dr. Fredrik M Sjoberg is a data analyst and political scientist with extensive experience in the developing world. He currently manages a research team on Digital Citizen Engagement at the World Bank and is a Research Affiliate with Data-Pop Alliance. Learn more about him here and follow on Twitter: @fsjoberg.

Resource Link: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract

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