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Edmund Handby (Duke): Addressing Strategic Voting via Electoral Lotteries

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Thursday, September 14, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Edmund Handby (Duke) will present his paper, "Addressing Strategic Voting via Electoral Lotteries."

The theoretical and empirical study of electoral systems has demonstrated how strategic voting is an inherent feature of various systems. Studies in social choice theory, for example, demonstrate the pervasiveness of strategic voting, whereas more recent studies have gone beyond the mere diagnosis, such as those that illustrate which demographics are more likely to strategically vote. There are, of course, normative dimensions to strategic voting. Some view strategic voting as being detrimental, as exacerbating existing inequalities, whereas others see positives, such as the incentive to attain a greater knowledge of politics.

In this paper, I examine the potential to address or mitigate strategic voting. Specifically, I assess the effectiveness of electoral lotteries as a means of doing so. I do so with reference to three kinds of lotteries. First, lotteries where the locus of randomisation is the ballot, such as random dictatorship. Second, lotteries where the randomness is at the level of political office including sortition. Third, lotteries where the electoral system itself is randomised. I propose a hypothetical electoral system lottery which involves randomly selecting the system at each electoral cycle, with voters only being made aware of the chosen system after their votes have been cast. I suggest that each type of lottery is flawed in its effectiveness in mitigating strategic voting. I conclude with a discussion of the normative implications of lotteries and strategic voting.