Open-Secret Voting

20 Pages Posted: 22 Jul 2010 Last revised: 28 Jan 2011

Date Written: July 1, 2010


Stock debates about transparency and secrecy usually assume that open voting and secret voting are mutually exclusive. But these positions present a false alternative; open and secret voting can be employed as complements in a larger decision-procedure. In what follows I will propose a hybrid or dual procedure of open-secret voting, and attempt to specify the conditions under which that procedure works well. I suggest that open-secret voting can best be justified as an institutional means of obtaining a second opinion from the voting group. A second opinion of this sort might produce informational benefits either for the members of the voting group itself, for outside parties, or for both. This is a companion paper to Adrian Vermeule, Second Opinions, available on SSRN.

Suggested Citation

Vermeule, Adrian, Open-Secret Voting (July 1, 2010). Harvard Law and Economics Discussion Paper No. 674, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 10-37, Available at SSRN: or

Adrian Vermeule (Contact Author)

Harvard Law School ( email )

1525 Massachusetts
Griswold 500
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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