VOTER COMPETENCE

Mica Schwartzman points to an interesting, if not entirely unpredictable, social science finding:

Dan Ortiz has an article called “Paradoxes of Mass Democracy,” printed in recent book called Rethinking the Vote (OUP), in which he argues that democracies are supposed to meet three conditions: (i) near universal suffrage, (ii) equality among those granted voting rights, and (iii) some degree of thoughtfulness among voters. The problem, as Ortiz argues, is that we can’t have it all:

The more we broaden political participation among equals, the less likely it is that individuals will deliberate about their political choices. The argument is that mass participation, combined with voter equality, drives down voter competence. The main reason for this effect is that individual votes matter less when more people vote. As partipation expands, rational voters therefore have less reason to educate themselves about their political choices.

Yet another reason to not get too excited about voter turnout.

FILED UNDER: Politics 101
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.