The Political Morality of Voting in Direct Democracy

25 Pages Posted: 18 Nov 2012 Last revised: 5 Jun 2013

See all articles by Michael Serota

Michael Serota


Ethan J. Leib

Fordham University School of Law

Date Written: November 17, 2012


The voting levers in candidate elections and in direct democracy elections are identical. The political obligations that bind the citizens that pull them are not. This Essay argues that voters in direct democracy elections, unlike their counterparts in candidate elections, serve as representatives of the people and are, accordingly, bound by the ethics of political representation. Upending the traditional dichotomy between representative and direct democracy, this Essay explains why citizens voting in direct democracy are representative legislators who must vote in the public interest and must not vote in their private interests.

Keywords: direct democracy, public interest, candidate elections, voting ethics, political morality, representation

Suggested Citation

Serota, Michael Eli and Leib, Ethan J., The Political Morality of Voting in Direct Democracy (November 17, 2012). Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 97, No. 5, 2013; Fordham Law Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2177365. Available at SSRN:

Michael Eli Serota

Independent ( email )

Ethan J. Leib (Contact Author)

Fordham University School of Law ( email )

150 West 62nd Street
New York, NY 10023
United States

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