Recent contributions to the political economics literature (Trebbi et al. 2007; Aghion et al. 2004) have challenged the view that political institutions are exogenous to the behavior of agents in the political arena. We explicitly address the potential endogeneity of institu- tions by examining the link between the degree of political competition and the design of ballot access restrictions in the United States. Exploiting exogenous variation in electoral competition at the state level induced by the federal Voting Rights Act of 1965, our main finding is that restrictions to the entry of non-major party candidates have been systemat- ically adjusted to changing degrees of electoral competition. As a consequence, differences in ballot access requirements between states are endogenous in the sense that they reflect differences in electoral competition.
Political institutions electoral competition ballot access