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Sunshine or Shield Model

by Michele Buttò (Submitted: 06/25/2014)

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## WHAT IS IT?

Do secret voting procedures help or hinder legislative bodies seeking to hold their own members responsible for wrongdoing? Drawing on parameters from the Brazilian case, this model illustrates how voting decisions are built from individual calculations into institutional accountability processes, shedding light on the contingent nature of accountability.

## HOW IT WORKS
The model can be altered on five basic dimensions: probity of the accused congressional representative; composition of the ethics committee, composition of the full House, system variables, and voting procedure. Individual representatives’ votes are determined by the relationship between publicity and power, with three different thresholds, depending on a representative’s nature (clean, corrupt, or tainted).

## HOW TO USE IT

The interface allows users to alter all of these parameters at will.

## THINGS TO NOTICE

As described in an accompanying paper, to be published by JASSS, the contingency of the outcomes means that open voting does not always lead to the most legislative accountability. Indeed, when the accused congressional representative is very powerful, or media coverage is low, open voting actually leads to worse outcomes than secret voting. Open voting is much more effective when low power congressional representatives are on trial.

## THINGS TO TRY

Play with the composition of corrupt, tainted and clean representatives. Alter the power of the accused representative. Change the voting procedure.

## EXTENDING THE MODEL

This model might be extended to other legislative systems, to other instances of secret voting behavior, and to other sequential voting processes.

## CREDITS AND REFERENCES

This model is drawn from Michele Buttò, Carlos Pereira, and Matthew M. Taylor, “Sunshine or Shadow? Secret Voting Procedures and Legislative Accountability.” Working paper, 2014.

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