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The author of this document focuses on the effects that electronic voting (EV)has on Brazilian elections in terms of government spending and voter turnout. The paper explores the impact of technology on voting and concludes that EV increased the level of government spending on healthcare, which helps a majority of poorcitizens. Additionally, results indicate that EV has led to increased prenatal visits and better health for newborns, especially for the less educated mothers. The paper is important because it seeks to find out the effect of EV on political participation.

Moreover, this paper also explains how increased political participation can benefit the less affluent population of any country. Notably, people who participate in elections are in a better position to demand favorable policies that govern them. Additionally, the author studies the possibility that, using ballots decreases the effect of reduced political participation. Consequently, the results indicate that EV increased the number of less-educated voters because of reduced residual votes. Likewise, other features of the electronic system like error notifications and more straightforward voting instructions reduced the number of rejected votes.  Unlike the EV system, the ballot paper system registered fewer participants because it had more reading instructions despite the fact that about more than twenty percent of adults in Brazil can barely read or write.

Firstly, the author uses a regression discontinuity design (RDD) to measure the impact of electronic technology on voting exercises. The results indicate that EV reduced the number of canceled votes by more than nine percent of the total votes cast. Similarly, the results show that EV saved millions of votes that could have otherwise counted as residual ones because the voting system gave many voters a right to vote. Consequently, the improved number of votes coincides with the paper’s hypothesis that the new voters were illiterate because the effect was more noticeable in areas with high illiteracy rates. The author also asserts that EV favors left-wingparties, which got majority votes. However, the results are not linked to the number of candidates participating in the elections.

Secondly, the paper argues that increased voter turnout among the poor has affected the policies that govern them. The author focuses on the effect that EV has had on government spending especially on areas with many less educated individuals. The results indicate that the government has spent a significant amount of its budget on improving the public healthcare system. Notably, less educated citizens rely on public health services because most of them cannot afford private services. As a result, EV has led to a significant increase in the number of prenatal visits and reduced low weight births in less educated women.

Suggestions for improving the paper are listed below.

General Comments:

  1. The author focuses on EV as the main factor that leads to a high voter turnout although other factors are equally important. Ideally, the paper should have also looked at other factors that may have led to increased voter turnout. For example, figure 2 shows an upward trend in the number of voter turnout between 1994 and 2002 because of EV.However,the effect could be due to federal laws that make voting a compulsory activity or the presidential elections that attract many voters. As a result, the author could also expound on these two factors to get a better conclusion.
  2. The results in a table (IV) indicate that EV has led to an increase in the healthcare budget by more than thirty percent. Therefore, prenatal appointments rose by eighteen percent and low birth weight cases reduced by seven percent. Conversely,the author could also include other factors that could lead to the observed changes such as revised policies on prenatal healthcare. Having several factors would improve the number of readers that understand the results. Consequently, the author could mention the changes in prenatal policies that could have led to an improvement in the number of prenatal visits.

Specific Comments:

  • The paper is biased because it concentrates on the effects of EV on healthcare even though it also affects other sectors like education.
  • Page 4 states that EV has led to an increase in the number of prenatal visits. However, the author fails to mention that such changes could also be due to improved public awareness on health matters.
  • Page 18 claims that EV makes it easier for municipalities with poorer people to vote. The author could also mention that even literate persons find it easier to vote using the EV system because it is user-friendly.
  • Section 3.1 indicates that the Brazilian government provides free health care to all its citizens. The statement is confusing because according to the author, EV is the main reason why Brazil has an improved healthcare system.
  • According to page 43, EV increases the budget allocated to health services, which leads to reduced low birth weight cases. However, the paper contradicts itself when the author says that improved birth weight does not essentially lead to improved infant health.
  • In figure 4, the author could use the words “both paper and electronic” instead of the word “discontinuity,” to represent the nature of elections in 1998.

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