And the Beat Goes On: Voting on the Form of County Governance in the Midst of Public Corruption
‘Operation Pretense,’ an FBI sting operation conducted in Mississippi during the 1980s, uncovered widespread corruption among the state's county supervisors. The revelations prompted the Mississippi legislature to authorize including on the November 1988 ballot a measure asking voters whether they favored switching to a more centralized ‘unit system’ of county governance or instead retaining the decentralized ‘beat system’ then in place in all but two of the state's 82 counties. We examine voters' decisions to participate in that election, in which 47 counties returned majorities for the unit system and 35 counties opted for the status quo. Controlling for participation in the 1988 presidential race and other relevant factors, we find that turnout rates for the beat‐unit choice were positively correlated with supervisor corruption. We also find that the corrupt counties' higher voter turnouts were driven mainly by supporters of the corruption‐prone beat system.
“And the Beat Goes On: Voting on the Form of County Governance in the Midst of Public Corruption” (with Gökhan R. Karahan and R. Morris Coats), Kyklos 62(1) (2009), pp. 65–84.