Improving voting and elections

Should the rest of the EU follow Austria in reducing the voting age to 16?

Should the rest of the EU follow Austria in reducing the voting age to 16?

For the last decade, Austria has been the only country in the EU that allows voting at the age of 16 at all political levels. Paul Schmidt assesses whether this could offer a future model for the EU, and the possible lessons that can be learned from the Austrian experience.

The results of the 2018 voter ID pilots and why this is not the time for a national roll-out

The results of the 2018 voter ID pilots and why this is not the time for a national roll-out

Ben Stanford looks at the results of the voter ID pilot scheme used in the 2018 local elections in England and the potential implications of a national roll-out. He concludes that, given the current levels of voter apathy, such fundamental reforms may end up discouraging even more individuals from voting.

Do election handouts actually ‘buy’ votes?

Do election handouts actually ‘buy’ votes?

Vote-buying is generally seen as detrimental for democracies. However, the efficacy of such bribes has rarely been studied. Jenny Guardado and Leonard Wantchékon find that there is little correlation between election handouts and support for the parties offering them. Possible explanations include the secrecy of the ballot and multiple opposing parties buying votes, and so we should be cautious about assuming they are effective.

Unionism versus self-interest: would MPs support Proportional Representation?

Unionism versus self-interest: would MPs support Proportional Representation?

In light of the electoral divergence between the UK’s constituent nations, and the real danger of a break-up of the Union, Klaus Stolz makes the case for Proportional Representation. He explains, however, that reform will be a choice between the collective self-interest of Labour and Conservative MPs on the one hand, and their ideological values on the other.

‘Use it or lose it?’ Why the ability to vote shouldn’t depend on actually doing so

‘Use it or lose it?’ Why the ability to vote shouldn’t depend on actually doing so

The US Supreme Court has ruled that Ohio’s controversial plans to remove habitual non-voters from the electoral register is constitutional. Christopher Stafford argues that such a measure has serious consequences for encouraging democratic participation – and there are better ways of ensuring the accuracy of the electoral register.

A changing democracy: the British political tradition has never been more vulnerable

A changing democracy: the British political tradition has never been more vulnerable

Never before has the British political tradition been more contested, write Matthew Hall, David Marsh and Emma Vines. They explain that British democracy is facing three major challenges – Scottish independence, Brexit, and anti-politics – and these have the potential to force change on an otherwise stale political establishment.

Electoral observation missions promote competitive elections in autocracies

Electoral observation missions promote competitive elections in autocracies

As elections have become more frequent across all regimes, Electoral Observation Missions (EOM) have increased their presence around their world. However, it has not always been clear whether EOM have an impact, and what exactly that is. Nasos Roussias and Rubén Ruiz-Rufino addressed this issue, examining elections from more than 100 countries around the world between 1976 and 2009. They show that EOM presence results in improvements of the competitiveness of elections, but only in autocracies, where they reduce margins of victory for incumbents and increase the likelihood that the opposition will take over, whereas they have no traceable impact in democracies.

Why the Grieve amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is not unconstitutional

Why the Grieve amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill is not unconstitutional

On Wednesday, 20 June, the House of Commons will consider again amendments to the EU Withdrawal Bill intended to give Parliament a meaningful vote on the Brexit negotiations, particularly in the case of no deal being agreed. Ben Margulies considers the constitutional implications of these highly contentious proposals.

Maine’s election shows that ranked-choice voting is popular in the US right now. But we have been here before.

Maine’s election shows that ranked-choice voting is popular in the US right now. But we have been here before.

Voters in the Pine Tree State have chosen to continue using ranked-choice voting in state-wide elections. Jack Santucci explains that ranked-choice voting is likely to be adopted in polarised political environments, creating majorities where there currently are none, and as a reaction to unpopular politicians who have won without majorities of votes. He reminds us that the current era of polarisation is similar to that of one hundred years ago, the last time ranked-choice voting was in fashion.

Why don’t immigrants vote more?

Why don’t immigrants vote more?

There are relatively few cases where non-citizen immigrants can vote in municipal elections, but where they can participation tends to be low. Didier Ruedin assesses the case of Geneva, where he finds that, even accounting for social origin, engagement, civic integration and socialisation, there is a gap in participation that needs further explanation.