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Testing and Improving Voters' Political Knowledge

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  • Kennedy Stewart
  • Patricia MacIver
  • Stewart Young

Abstract

This article presents data from Canada's first comprehensive Election-Day Exit Poll, which surveyed 664 voters as they exited polling booths during the 2005 Vancouver civic election. Researchers asked voters to take two tests to estimate their political knowledge levels. The results reveal that voters' knowledge regarding political actors can be most effectively enhanced by increasing information dissemination and reducing candidates' voter-contact costs, perhaps best accomplished through electoral reform and more directly distributing relevant information to voters. Increasing voters' political system knowledge is more difficult but also less critical as respondents' test scores in this area are already very high. Suggested policy measures might help improve political knowledge, and hence voting participation rates, among non-voters.

Suggested Citation

  • Kennedy Stewart & Patricia MacIver & Stewart Young, 2008. "Testing and Improving Voters' Political Knowledge," Canadian Public Policy, University of Toronto Press, vol. 34(4), pages 403-418, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpp:issued:v:34:y:2008:i:4:p:403-418
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    File URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.3138/cpp.34.4.403
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    1. David Dreyer Lassen, 2004. "The Effect of Information on Voter Turnout: Evidence from a Natural Experiment," EPRU Working Paper Series 04-03, Economic Policy Research Unit (EPRU), University of Copenhagen. Department of Economics.
    2. Harbaugh, W T, 1996. "If People Vote Because They Like to, Then Why Do So Many of Them Lie?," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 89(1-2), pages 63-76, October.
    3. Burden, Barry C., 2000. "Voter Turnout and the National Election Studies," Political Analysis, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(04), pages 389-398, July.
    4. Ron Johnston & Richard Harris & Kelvyn Jones, 2007. "Sampling People or People in Places? The BES as an Election Study," Political Studies, Political Studies Association, vol. 55, pages 86-112, March.
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