Study Questions

1. Imagine that it is possible to have “electronic democracy”—that it is possible to have everyone vote via computer each night on the most important issues in the news. Further imagine that we have managed to get rid of any security concerns with electronic voting. Would you want this type of democracy? Why or why not?

2. What is the connection between the type of electoral system a country has and the number of parties it has?

3. Explain Arrow’s theorem and how it is possible that different electoral systems can reach different results.

4. In most modern democracies, sizable proportions of the people who are eligible to vote do not actually turn out on Election Day. How might variance in voter turnout among different parts of the population affect the predictions of democratic theory? Can you think of any other pesky real-world factors that might affect the predictions of the idealized theories of democracy discussed in this chapter?

5. Different democratic states experience different levels of participation. Discuss the electoral, political, and societal factors that influence voter turnout and why there might be such variance in participation.

6. Discuss the impact of voters on the electoral systems. What is the different impact of voters, non-voters, and uneducated (uniformed) voters?

7. Compare and contrast direct democracy and representative democracy.

8. What four factors are critical to the effectiveness and the remarkable endurance of the U.S. political system?

9. Do you believe that the use of referenda and initiatives is a good idea? Why or why not? If you were going to propose an initiative or a referendum, what would it be?

10. Which state does Al Franken represent?