Elections as Poorer Reflections of Preferences Under Compulsory Voting
101 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2015
Date Written: November 20, 2015
Compulsory voting is known to increase electoral participation, but its second-order effects are not well established. In this paper, I argue that vote choices are a relatively poor reflection of individuals’ preferences under compulsory voting, as it boosts participation among those who are unlikely to cast well-reasoned ballots — the politically disinterested and unknowledgeable and those who see elections as flawed or pointless. I test this expectation with cross-national survey data, and I conduct supplementary tests with regional survey data from Switzerland, which employs compulsory voting in select cantons. Results from both sets of analyses support my expectations, suggesting that elections conducted under compulsory rules are relatively unlikely to signal the preferences of the voting population.
Keywords: compulsory voting, voting behavior, electoral rules
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