Sunday, January 07, 2007

What if no one voted?

Political scientists have spent a lot of time and energy trying to figure out why and when people vote. This book is a great overview of the research, this article is rather pathbreaking, and this argument is quite compelling.

Common to all of these arguments is something of a paradox: why vote when your vote is rarely if ever decisive? Well, there appears to be at least case when it's pretty close. Nova Scotia held a special by-election yesterday for the African-Nova Scotian seat on the South Shore regional school board. No one voted. This shouldn't be terribly surprising. School board elections are low participation affairs; by-elections are even more so. And I don't think the African Nova Scotian population on the South Shore is very high, so the electorate is small. But still, file this one away as the exception which proves the rule.

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