Discussant/Commentateur/Commentatrice : Ian McAllister (Australian National University)
Compulsory Voting and ”Random” Votes: Evidence from a Large Scale Survey Experiment in Brazil: Alessandro Freire (University of Brasília), Mathieu Turgeon (University of Western Ontario) Abstract: Compulsory voting is known for boosting electoral turnout, even when sanctions are small or loosely enforced. We know much less, however, about the
consequences of compulsory voting on vote choice, and, in particular, about the quality of electoral decisions. In this paper, we explore the extent to which
voters meaningfully engage in the electoral process or simply vote ”randomly” (i.e., vote for any candidate whatsoever) because voting is required by law. We
adopt a list experiment from a large online survey conducted in Brazil during the 2018 national elections to assess if voters engage in ”random” voting. We evaluate random voting for different types of elected offices (state and federal legislators, governor, and president)—some of which are presumably viewed by voters as more important than others—and evaluate the determinants of ”random” voting. Preliminary findings indicate that : 1) there is substantial ”random” voting under compulsory voting; 2) the extent to which voters engage in ”random” voting varies by elected office; and, 3) interest in politics and political knowledge both appear to reduce ”random” voting”. Our findings carry important implications for the study of citizen participation and competence under compulsory voting and democratic representation, more broadly.
Hyperdiversity and Dual Motivations of Political Participation: Evidence from the Canadian Case on the Impact of Neighbourhood Change: Aengus Bridgman (McGill University) Abstract: Interest in the relationship between diversity, social cohesion, and civic and political participation has grown in prominence over the past decade, with much research showing that community heterogeneity has substantive impacts on political attitudes and behaviours. Drawing upon the dual motiviations theory of participation, I examine the causal effect on both civic and political participation of increasing neighbourhood heterogeneity. Using pooled data from three waves (2003, 2008, 2013) of the Canadian General Social Survey linked with precise measures of neighbourhood-level diversity drawn from the Canadian census (1996, 2001, 2006, and 2011), I demonstrate that increasing heterogeneity motivates self-interested political participation but that there are no causal effects observed for the civic dimension of participation. This leads to the conclusion that the observed relationship found in many observational studies between heterogeneity and low civic participation must be the result of either habituation or sorting effects as opposed to short-term contact. This paper contributes to a growing body of literature and offers two innovations: the addition of a causal argument by isolating a geographically stable population; and a detailed examination of types of political and civic participation .
Crisis of Representative Democracy? Changing Patterns in Electoral Participation: Filip Kostelka (University of Essex), André Blais (Université de Montréal) Abstract: Voter turnout in electoral democracies declined by nearly ten percentage points between the1960s and 2010s. The reasons for this global decline are yet unclear. This article draws on the findings from micro-level studies and theorises two explanations: generational change and rise in the number of elected institutions. In the process, the article critically assesses the other main explanations that have been advanced in the political science literature: shifts in party/candidate competition, voting age reforms, weakening group mobilisation, or economic globalisation. Subsequently, all the explanations are tested via an original dataset covering all post-1945 democratic national elections. The results support the generational change, elective institutions, and party/candidate competition hypotheses but do not corroborate any of the other explanations. The three identified culprits, of which in particular generational replacement, account for most of the decline. These findings have important implications for a better understanding of the current transformations of representative democracy and the challenges it faces.