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Is compulsory voting more democratic?

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  • Keith Jakee

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  • Guang-Zhen Sun

Abstract

Lijphart (1997) endorses compulsory voting as a means to increase voter turnout. Considering the likely effects of the role of information (including its costs) on the decision to vote and taking an expressive view of voting, however, compels us to investigate two unexamined claims by such advocates: (i) that individuals are transformed by forcing them to vote, and (ii) that a compulsory electoral outcome is a more accurate reflection of community preferences.We argue that compelling those who are not particularly interested in, or informed about, the political process to vote increases the proportion of random votes and we show that under simple majority rule, compulsory voting may violate the Pareto principle; the less popular candidate is more likely to be elected. Our results cast doubt on the ”miracle of aggregation“ argument, which optimistically concludes that as long as uninformed votes are not systematically biased, they will have no effect on voting outcomes. We also briefly consider how information cascades can exacerbate this problem. Copyright Springer Science + Business Media, Inc. 2006

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Bibliographic Info

Article provided by Springer in its journal Public Choice.

Volume (Year): 129 (2006)
Issue (Month): 1 (October)
Pages: 61-75

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Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:129:y:2006:i:1:p:61-75

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Web page: http://www.springerlink.com/link.asp?id=100332

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  1. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
  2. W. Mark Crain, 1995. "The Right Versus The Obligation To Vote: Rejoinder To Yeret, And O'Toole And Strobl," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 7(3), pages 281-287, November.
  3. Blais, Andre & Young, Robert, 1999. " Why Do People Vote? An Experiment in Rationality," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 99(1-2), pages 39-55, April.
  4. Matsusaka, John G, 1995. " Explaining Voter Turnout Patterns: An Information Theory," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 84(1-2), pages 91-117, July.
  5. Francis O'Toole & Eric Strobl, 1994. "Compulsory Voting And Government Spending," Economics Technical Papers 944, Trinity College Dublin, Department of Economics.
  6. Brennan, Geoffrey & Hamlin, Alan, 1998. " Expressive Voting and Electoral Equilibrium," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 95(1-2), pages 149-75, April.
  7. Mueller,Dennis C., 2003. "Public Choice III," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521894753, October.
  8. Matsusaka, John G & Palda, Filip, 1999. " Voter Turnout: How Much Can We Explain?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 98(3-4), pages 431-46, March.
  9. Dharmapala, Dhammika & Palda, Filip, 2002. " Are Campaign Contributions a Form of Speech? Evidence from Recent US House Elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 112(1-2), pages 81-114, July.
  10. Ashenfelter, Orley C & Kelley, Stanley, Jr, 1975. "Determinants of Participation in Presidential Elections," Journal of Law and Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 18(3), pages 695-733, December.
  11. W. Mark Crain & Mary L. Leonard, 1993. "The Right Versus The Obligation To Vote: Effects On Cross-Country Government Growth," Economics and Politics, Wiley Blackwell, vol. 5(1), pages 43-51, 03.
  12. Kirman, Alan, 1993. "Ants, Rationality, and Recruitment," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 108(1), pages 137-56, February.
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Cited by:
  1. Sanne Zwart, 2007. "Fixing the Quorum: Representation versus Abstention," Economics Working Papers ECO2007/07, European University Institute.
  2. Felix Schlaepfer, 2007. "Contingent valuation: a new perspective," SOI - Working Papers 0715, Socioeconomic Institute - University of Zurich.
  3. Drosdowski, Thomas, 2006. "On the Link Between Democracy and Environment," Diskussionspapiere der Wirtschaftswissenschaftlichen Fakultät der Leibniz Universität Hannover dp-355, Leibniz Universität Hannover, Wirtschaftswissenschaftliche Fakultät.
  4. Mutascu, Mihai, 2011. "Compulsory voting and tax revenues," MPRA Paper 33987, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  5. Sanne Zwart, 2010. "Ensuring a representative referendum outcome: the daunting task of setting the quorum right," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 34(4), pages 643-677, April.

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