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Abstract

In this paper, I trace social mechanisms for the development and continuation of citizens’ trust in e-voting. My research focuses on the processes that give rise to trust-related behavior, and identifies mechanisms that explain trust in e-voting. I distinguish between initial formation and recurrent manifestation of trust, and propose models of causal processes to explain them. I frame the research on trust in e-voting as a case of political trust in the socio-technical entity of the electoral authorities and the e-voting system, and draw from general sociotechnical theories and literature on trust to construct relevant concepts and relationships. Empirically, this theory-building exercise traces the process of the initial development of trust in e-voting in Brazil in the 1990s and the maintenance of this trust in the conduct of Brazilian elections since then. The social mechanisms of trust that I derive from this study are associated with the process of democratization and continuing care towards adjusting the e-voting system to serve legitimate objectives for the conduct of elections, the interdependence of citizens’ perception of the trustworthiness of the technology system and the trustworthiness of the electoral authorities, and the fostering of a positive attitude towards IT by government policy.

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