Compulsory Voting, Inequality, and Quality of the Vote

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Democratic elections imply that the electorate holds incumbents accountable for past performance, and that voters select the party that is closest to their own political preferences. Previous research shows both elements require political sophistication. A number of countries throughout the world have a system of compulsory voting, and this legal obligation boosts levels of voter turnout. Under such rules, citizens with low levels of sophistication in particular are thought to turn out to vote in higher numbers. Is it the case that the quality of the vote is reduced when these less-sophisticated voters are compelled to vote? This article investigates this claim by examining the effect of compulsory voting on accountability and proximity voting. The results show that compulsory voting reduces stratification based on knowledge and level of education, and proximity voting, but it does not have an effect on economic accountability. The article concludes with some suggestions on how systems of compulsory voting might mitigate the strength of political sophistication in determining the quality of the vote decision process.





Compulsory Voting, political sophistication, electoral accountability, proximity voting, CSES


Ce contenu a été mis à jour le 29 mai 2017 à 4 h 00 min.