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New Report: How We Voted in 2022

Launching the 2022 Survey of the Performance of American Elections report and dataset

By Claire DeSoi 05.23.2023


A Brief Summary

Access the data + learn more.

Today we are thrilled to launch our report on the 2022 Survey of the Performance of American Elections, with its accompanying dataset.

The Survey of the Performance of American Elections (SPAE) provides information about how Americans experienced voting in the most recent federal election. The survey has been conducted after federal elections since 2008, and is the only public opinion project in the country that is dedicated explicitly to understanding how voters themselves experience the election process.

We are delighted to announce that our report detailing findings from the 2022 SPAE is now available to read, and that the 2022 dataset is now available for researchers to access and use!

10,200 registered voters responded to the 2022 survey—200 observations in each state plus the District of Columbia. We are proud to once again offer this comprehensive, nationwide dataset at the state level documenting election issues as experienced by voters.

Read the Report:

research paper general election

Don't have time to read the full report now, or just want to access the key findings? We've excerpted some of the report's executive summary below.

Voting by mail

  • The percentage of voters casting ballots by mail retreated to 32 percent, down more than 10 points from 2020.  more than doubling the fraction from 2016.  The share of voters casting ballots on Election Day grew to 50 percent, from 31 percent in 2020.
  • Forty-six percent of Democrats, compared to 27 percent of Republicans, reported voting by mail.  This is down from 60 percent for Democrats and 32 percent for Republicans in 2020.
  • The use of mail to return ballots that were mailed to voters rebounded in 2022, to 62 percent, compared to 53 percent in 2020.  Twenty-one percent of mail ballots were returned to drop boxes, which is virtually unchanged from 2020.
  • Almost five percent of voters who returned their ballot to a drop box reported seeing something disruptive, such as demonstrators, when they dropped off their ballot.
  • Forty percent of mail voters reported using online ballot tracking.

In-person voting

  • The use of schools to vote in-person continued its decade-long gradual decline. 
  • Average wait times to vote were roughly equal to the last midterm election for Election Day voters (6 percent waiting over 30 minutes compared to 5 percent in 2020); they declined for early voters (4 percent reported waiting over 30 minutes compared to 7 percent in 2020).
  • Ten percent of Election Day voters and 9 percent of early voters reported seeing something disruptive when they voted.  The most common disruptions were voters talking loudly and voters in a dispute with an election worker or other voter.
  • Approximately 3 percent of in-person voters reported seeing demonstrators outside their polling place claiming the election was fraudulent.

Satisfaction with voting

  • Voters who cast ballots in person and by mail continued to express high levels of satisfaction with the process, as in past years.

Reasons for not voting

  • The primary reported reason for not voting in 2022 was not knowing enough about the choices (12.1 percent of non-voters), followed by not being interested (11.7 percent). and being too busy (9.8 percent).

Voter confidence

  • Measured across all voters, confidence that votes were counted as intended remained similar to past years. 
  • The partisan gap in confidence that opened up in 2020 closed somewhat in 2022, with the primary reason being Republicans becoming more confident.
  • Compared to 2020, the Democratic-Republican gap in state-level confidence declined significantly in most states.  Major exceptions were Pennsylvania and Arizona.
  • Among Republicans, lack of confidence in whether votes were counted as intended at the state level was strongly correlated with whether Donald Trump won the respondent’s state and with the fraction of votes cast by mail in the state.

Election security measures

  • Of a set of common security measures used by election officials, respondents were most aware of logic-and-accuracy testing and securing paper ballots. One-third of respondents stated that election officials used none of the measures asked about. 
  • Respondents stated that the security measures that would give them the greatest assurance about the security and integrity of elections were logic-and-accuracy testing (74 percent), securing paper ballots (74 percent), and post-election audits (72 percent).
  • Partisan attitudes about the prevalence of several types of vote fraud remained polarized in 2020, although less so than in 2020.
  • Requiring electronic voting machines to have paper backups, requiring a photo ID to vote, automatically changing registrations when voters move, requiring election officials to be nonpartisan, and declaring Election Day a holiday were supported by majorities of both Democrats and Republicans.
  • Adopting automatic voter registration, moving Election Day to the weekend, and Election-Day registration are supported by a majority of respondents, but not by a majority of Republicans.
  • Ranked-choice voting, conducting elections entirely by mail, and allowing Internet voting were opposed by a majority of respondents but supported by a majority of Democrats; hand-counting paper ballots was opposed by a majority of respondents but supported by a majority of Republicans. 
  • Voting on cell phones was opposed by majorities of Democrats and Republicans.

Read the full report

Data and documents related to all versions of the Survey of the Performance of American Elections are available from the Harvard Dataverse, as is direct access to the 2022 data and documentation. For those links, or more information about the survey in general, navigate to: 

Access the 2022 Data

Access all SPAE Data

Learn more about the SPAE

research paper general election

Claire DeSoi is the communications director for the MIT Election Data + Science Lab.

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  • Published: 12 March 2018

Election polling errors across time and space

  • Will Jennings   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0001-9007-8896 1 &
  • Christopher Wlezien   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0002-0719-697X 2  

Nature Human Behaviour volume  2 ,  pages 276–283 ( 2018 ) Cite this article

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An Author Correction to this article was published on 26 June 2020

This article has been updated

Are election polling misses becoming more prevalent? Are they more likely in some contexts than others? Here we undertake an over-time and cross-national assessment of prediction errors in pre-election polls. Our analysis draws on more than 30,000 national polls from 351 general elections in 45 countries between 1942 and 2017. We proceed in the following way. First, building on previous studies, we show how errors in national polls evolve in a structured way over the election timeline. Second, we examine errors in polls in the final week of the election campaign to assess performance across election years. Third, we undertake a pooled analysis of polling errors—controlling for a number of institutional and party features—that enables us to test whether poll errors have increased or decreased over time. We find that, contrary to conventional wisdom, the recent performance of polls has not been outside the ordinary. However, the performance of polls does vary across political contexts and in understandable ways.

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Change history

26 june 2020.

An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.

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An earlier version of this article was presented at the Advertising Research Foundation’s ForecastxScience meeting, Google, Sunnyvale, California, 14–15 November 2017. We thank C. Kennedy, D. Rothschild, P. Sturgis and G. Terhanian for comments on earlier versions of this paper, and to Lord Lipsey and other members of the House of Lords Select Committee on Political Polling and Digital Media for their comments and questions. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

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Jennings, W., Wlezien, C. Election polling errors across time and space. Nat Hum Behav 2 , 276–283 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/s41562-018-0315-6

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research paper general election

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  • Published: 06 August 2020

The emergence of social media data and sentiment analysis in election prediction

  • Priyavrat Chauhan   ORCID: orcid.org/0000-0003-3685-182X 1 ,
  • Nonita Sharma 1 &
  • Geeta Sikka 1  

Journal of Ambient Intelligence and Humanized Computing volume  12 ,  pages 2601–2627 ( 2021 ) Cite this article

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This work presents and assesses the power of various volumetric, sentiment, and social network approaches to predict crucial decisions from online social media platforms. The views of individuals play a vital role in the discovery of some critical decisions. Social media has become a well-known platform for voicing the feelings of the general population around the globe for almost decades. Sentiment analysis or opinion mining is a method that is used to mine the general population’s views or feelings. In this respect, the forecasting of election results is an application of sentiment analysis aimed at predicting the outcomes of an ongoing election by gauging the mood of the public through social media. This survey paper outlines the evaluation of sentiment analysis techniques and tries to edify the contribution of the researchers to predict election results through social media content. This paper also gives a review of studies that tried to infer the political stance of online users using social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. Besides, this paper highlights the research challenges associated with predicting election results and open issues related to sentiment analysis. Further, this paper also suggests some future directions in respective election prediction using social media content.

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Chauhan, P., Sharma, N. & Sikka, G. The emergence of social media data and sentiment analysis in election prediction. J Ambient Intell Human Comput 12 , 2601–2627 (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12652-020-02423-y

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Home Thematic Issues 3 Studying Elections in India: Scie...

Studying Elections in India: Scientific and Political Debates

Election studies (which are here defined as scholarly work focusing on the major phases of the electoral process, i.e. the campaign, the vote, the announcement of results and subsequent government formation) constitute a distinct sub-genre of studies on democracy, which focuses, so to speak, on the ‘mechanics’ more than on the ‘substance’ of representative democracy. This sub-genre, being relatively more visible than other studies of representative democracy, has specific implications, in the academic but also in the political arena, which are the focus of this critical review of the literature on Indian elections since the 1980s. The paper argues that election studies are really in between science and politics, and that it is important, therefore, to contextualize them.

Index terms

Keywords: .

1 Studying elections in the largest democracy in the world is bound to be a challenge: given the size of the country and of its population, Indian national elections have been the largest electoral exercise in the world ever since the first national elections in 1952. Moreover the cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious diversity of the Indian society, as well as the federal nature of the Indian state, make this event a particularly complex one. What, then, have been the methodologies and approaches deployed to study this major political event? What have been the disciplines and foci of election studies? Who have been the main authors? In what form have these studies been publicized, and what type of readership have they targeted? Reading the available literature with these questions in mind, I have tried to identify some major shifts over time, and to grasp their meaning and implications; a few interviews with specialists of the field have allowed me to test some of the interpretations suggested by the readings. Through a review of the literature on Indian elections since the 1980s, this paper aims at mapping the scientific and political debates around election studies.

  • 1 Most works considered here deal with national elections, but some of them also focus on state elect (...)
  • 2 I owe this formulation to Amit Prakash, whose comments on a previous version of this paper were ver (...)

2 Election studies are here defined as scholarly work focusing on the major phases of the electoral process, i.e. the campaign, the vote, the announcement of results and subsequent government formation. 1 This is a restrictive definition: elections are obviously a central institution of representative democracy, and as such they are connected to every aspect of the polity. Yet election studies constitute a distinct sub-genre of studies on democracy, which focuses, so to speak, on the ‘mechanics’ more than on the ‘substance’ of representative democracy. 2 This sub-genre, being relatively more visible than other studies of representative democracy, has specific implications, in the academic but also in the political arena, which will be the focus of this critical review. This paper will argue that election studies are really in between science and politics, and that it is important, therefore, to contextualize them.

3 The paper starts with a quick overview of the different types of election studies which have been produced on India, and goes on to analyze a series of dilemmas and debates attached to election studies, which highlight the intricate nature of the political and scientific issues at stake.

The study of Indian elections: an overview

4 At least three previous reviews of election studies have been realized, by Narain (1978), Brass (1985), and Kondo (2007). Both Narain and Kondo provide a fairly exhaustive list of publications in this field, and discuss their relevance and quality. Brass’ review also offers a detailed discussion of the advantages and limitations of ecological approaches, to which I will later return.

5 There is no need to repeat this exercise here. But in view of situating the debates described in the next section of the paper, I simply want to sketch a broad typology of election studies published since the late 1980s—a moment which can be considered as the emergence of the new configuration of the Indian political scene, characterized by (i) the importance of regional parties and regional politics; (ii) the formation of ruling coalitions at the national and regional levels; and (iii) the polarization of national politics around the Congress, the BJP, and the ‘third space’.

6 All three reviews of the literature highlight the diversity of disciplines, methods, authors, institutions, and publication support of studies of Indian elections. But a major dividing line appears today between case studies and survey research (which largely match a distinction between qualitative and quantitative studies), with a number of publications, however, combining elements of both.

Case studies

7 Case studies analyze elections from the vantage point of a relatively limited political territory, which can be the village (for instance Somjee 1959), the city (or, within the city, the mohalla , the basti ), the constituency, the district, or the state. The major discipline involved in this type of research has been political science. Indeed elections have been the object par excellence of political science worldwide. In India as elsewhere, as we will see below, election studies reveal characteristic features of this relatively recent discipline, insofar as they embody some tensions between science and politics.

  • 3 Another example is a study of parliamentary and state elections in a village in Orissa at the end o (...)

8 Paul Brass developed the case study method in the course of his long interest for politics in Uttar Pradesh. His monograph on the 1977 and 1980 elections focuses on Uttar Pradesh (he justifies this choice saying that this election was largely decided in North India). His research is based on fieldwork in five selected constituencies whose ‘electoral history’ is minutely recalled. Here the choice of the unit of analysis is linked to pedagogical considerations: ‘Each constituency chosen illustrates a different aspect of the main social conflicts that have been prominent in UP politics’, he writes (Brass 1985: 175). Indeed in the case study approach, the detailed observation of elections in a particular area aims at uncovering processes and dynamics which are relevant for a much wider territory. 3

  • 4 In the early years of independent India, the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) com (...)
  • 5 One must note that among the various disciplines producing case studies, anthropology uses the larg (...)

9 Beside political science, anthropology has also approached elections in a manner close to case studies. 4 But anthropological studies are usually focused on a more limited political territory (typically, the village), and more importantly, they are centered on a questioning of the meaning of the electoral process 5 for voters: why do people vote? More precisely, why do they bother, what is the meaning of voting for them? Thus anthropologists often focus on the symbolic dimension of elections:

From this [symbolic] perspective, democracy is really an untrue but vitally important myth in support of social cohesion, with elections as its central and regular ritual enactment that helps maintain and restore equilibrium (Banerjee 2007: 1556).

10 Taking the ritual as a central metaphor in their accounts of elections, anthropologists help us see the various ‘ceremonies’ and ‘performances’ that constitute the electoral process:

To define [the] cultural qualities of Indian democracy, it is important to view the ritual of the election process through four consecutive ceremonies [:] Party endorsement […], the actual campaign […], the day of polling [and the] public announcement [of winners] (Hauser & Singer 1986: 945).

11 On the basis of their observations of two elections in Bihar in the 1980s, Hauser and Singer define the electoral process as a ‘cycle’. They describe the successive phases of this cycle, and draw parallels with religious rituals, noting for instance that the electoral process involves a series of processions. Their likening of the electoral campaign to a ‘pilgrimage’ manifesting the ‘inversion of power from the hands of the politicians back to the hands of the voters’ (Hauser & Singer 1986: 947) goes a long way in explaining the festive dimension of Indian elections.

12 Anthropological studies of elections also clearly show how elections precipitate, or at least highlight, otherwise latent political dynamics. The long fieldwork characteristic of the discipline makes it possible to concretely demonstrate how elections render visible otherwise subtle, if not invisible, relationships of influence:

[…] election day was when the complexity of the village’s social life was distilled into moments of structure and clarity, when diffuse tensions and loyalties were made unusually manifest (Banerjee 2007: 1561).

13 For Banerjee, who studied politics from the standpoint of a village in West Bengal, an election is a celebration in two ways: (i) it is a festive social event; (ii) it involves a sense of democracy as sacred. Therefore she understands ‘elections as sacred expressions of citizenship’ (Banerjee 2007: 1561).

14 For all their evocative strength, one can regret that anthropological studies of Indian elections deal mostly with villages and with traditional electoral practices. However one must also note that elections elsewhere have attracted even less attention from anthropologists. Indeed, a recent issue of Qualitative Sociology deplored that ‘at a time when few, if any, objects are beyond the reach and scrutiny of ethnographers, it is quite surprising that politics and its main protagonists (state officials, politicians and activists) remain largely un(der)studied by ethnography’s mainstream’ (Auyero 2006: 257).

Other approaches

15 A number of articles and books on Indian elections combine different methodological approaches. Thus some of Banerjee’s conclusions are shared by the political scientists Ahuja and Chibber ( n.d. ), in an interesting study combining quantitative and qualitative methods ( i.e. election surveys (1989-2004) and a series of focus group discussions) in three large Indian states. In order to understand the particular pattern of electoral turnout described by Yadav as characteristic of the ‘second democratic upsurge’ (Yadav 2000), Ahuja and Chibber identify three broad social groups, defined by three distinct ‘interpretations’ of voting. They argue that ‘differences in the voting patterns of opposite ends of the social spectrum exist because each group interprets the act of voting differently’. Thus the act of voting is considered as a ‘right’ by the groups who are on the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum—the ‘marginalized’; as an ‘instrument […] to gain access to the state and its resources’ by those in the middle of that spectrum—the ‘State’s clients’; and as ‘civic duty’ by those at the top—‘the elite’ (Ahuja & Chibber 2009: 1-9).

  • 6 One must also mention the ‘Chronicle of an Impossible Election’— i.e. the 2002 Assembly election in (...)

16 Among the ‘other approaches’ of elections, one also finds a number of monographs devoted to a single election 6 . For instance Myron Weiner’s study of the 1977 election constitutes an interesting, contemporary account of the beginning of the end of Congress dominance over Indian politics, with the first part devoted to the campaign and the second part to the analysis of results, on the basis on a medley of methods typical of political science:

In four widely scattered cities – Bombay […], Calcutta, Hyderabad, and New Delhi […]—[the author] talked to civil servants, candidates, campaign workers, newspaper editors, and people in the streets, attended campaign rallies and visited ward offices, collected campaign literature, listened to the radio, and followed the local press (Weiner 1978: 21)

17 In the 1990, a series of collective volume were published on parliamentary elections (for instance Roy & Wallace 1999). Often based on aggregate data such as those published by the Election Commission of India, they offer a series of papers that are interpretative, speculative, critical in nature.

  • 7 This is in sharp contrast with France, where electoral geographers such as André Siegfried have bee (...)

18 I have found one single book of electoral geography (Dikshit 1993), 7 which presents election results (crossed with census data) as a series of maps. This particular method highlights unexpected regional contrasts and similarities, which stimulates the production of explanatory hypotheses.

  • 8 This inventory of ‘ other’ election studies, that is, studies of elections that fall neither in the (...)

19 Finally, a recent book by Wendy Singer (2007) makes a case for an application of social history to elections. Going through a large material relating to elections (national, state, local) from 1952 to the 1990s, she shows how some details of the electoral process reveal important social changes over time. 8

20 The gathering of the above mentioned writings in a single, residual category is not meant to suggest that they are less effective than case studies or survey research in describing and explaining elections. On the contrary, the variety of methodologies that they mobilize shows the richness of elections as an object of scientific enquiry. But these studies eschew the strong methodological choices which define the other two categories and which point to the political stakes specific to election studies.

Survey research

21 Survey research has been dominating election studies since the 1990s for a variety of reasons. I will here use Yadav’s definition of this particular method:

[…] a technique of data gathering in which a sample of respondents is asked questions about their political preferences and beliefs to draw conclusions about political opinions, attitudes and behavior of a wider population of citizens (Yadav 2008: 5).

9 Eric Da Costa founded the Journal of Public Opinion .

  • 10 The CSDS was meant, in Kothari’s own words: ‘One, to give a truly empirical base to political scien (...)
  • 11 The CSDS did not even study the 1977 election, on which we fortunately have Myron Weiner’s monograp (...)

22 Survey research exemplifies the close relationship between the media and political science. It was introduced in India in the late 1950s by an economist turned journalist, Eric Da Costa, considered ‘the father of opinion polling in India’ (Butler et al. 1995: 41), 9 who went on to work with the Indian Institute of Public Opinion (IIPO) created in 1956—but it was political scientists such as Bashiruddin Ahmed, Ramashray Roy and Rajni Kothari who gave it a scientific grounding. In his Memoirs (2002), Kothari recalls how he went to Michigan University—which had developed an expertise in psephology, i.e. the statistical analysis of elections - to get trained in survey research. When he came back to India, Kothari applied this new method in his work at the Delhi-based Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), which he had founded a few years earlier, in 1963. 10 The first election to which he applied this newly acquired expertise was the Kerala state election in 1965 (Lokniti team 2004: 5373). The CSDS team then went on to study general elections in 1967, 1971 and 1980, but it seems to have progressively lost interest for election studies—hence the gap between this first series 11 and the new series which started in 1996—in a new political context, as we will see further.

23 The renaissance, so to speak, of electoral surveys, came from another academic turned journalist: Prannoy Roy. An economist by training, Roy learnt survey research in the United Kingdom. After coming back to India in the early 1980s, he applied this method to Indian elections. He co-produced a series of volumes, with Butler and Lahiri, he conducted a series of all India opinion polls for the magazine India Today, but more importantly in 1998 he founded a new television channel, New Delhi Television (NDTV) on which he anchored shows devoted to the statistical analysis of elections—thus popularizing psephology.

  • 12 The CSDS entered into a stable partnership with the new channel six months before it went on air, w (...)

24 The link between these two pioneering institutions of psephology, CSDS and NDTV, was provided by Yogendra Yadav, a young political scientist who was brought from Chandigarh University to the CSDS by Rajni Kothari. Yadav revived the data unit of the CSDS and went on to supervise an uninterrupted series of electoral studies which have been financially supported and publicized by the print media, but also by NDTV. Yadav’s expertise, his great ability to explain psephological analyses both in English and Hindi, made him a star of TV shows devoted to elections, first on NDTV, and then on the channel co-founded by the star anchor Rajdeep Sardesai after he left NDTV: CNN-IBN. 12 In 1995, the CSDS team around Yogendra Yadav created Lokniti, a network of scholars based in the various Indian states, working on democracy in general and on elections in particular. The Lokniti network has been expanding both in sheer numbers and in terms of disciplines, and it has consistently observed elections since 1996.

25 In a landmark volume published in 1995 by Roy along with two other scholars, David Butler and Ashok Lahiri, the authors had made a strong statement in favour of psephology, even while acknowledging its limits: ‘This book […] offers the ‘What?’ of the electoral record; it does not deal with the ‘Why?’’ (Butler et al. 1995: 4). In this regard, the CSDS data unit has strived, from 1996 onwards, to improve its data gathering in order to capture more of the ‘Why?’, i.e. to capture with increasing accuracy the electoral behaviour of Indians and its explanatory factors. More generally, it has aimed ‘to use elections as an occasion or as a window to making sense of trends and patterns in democratic politics’ (Lokniti Team 2004: 5373).

  • 13 The ‘notes on elections’ published in Electoral Studies favour a strongly institutional perspective (...)

26 The CSDS election studies have also been published in academic supports such as the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) in India, or Electoral Studies on the international level 13 , and they have been used by a large number of academic works in political sociology (for instance Jaffrelot (2008) on the vote of the urban middle classes). Recently, the Lokniti network has published a series of state election studies in Hindi and in English, with academic publishing houses (Mohan 2009, Shastri 2009).

Scientific and political debates

27 Debates around the study of Indian elections involve political and scientific arguments which are sometimes difficult to disentangle. These debates underline that no method is politically neutral, and they illustrate the particularly problematic relationship of one discipline, political science, with the political sphere and with the media.

Scientific dilemmas

28 The opposition between case studies and survey research can be broken into a series of dilemmas and choices.

29 The first dilemma concerns the most relevant unit of analysis: should one privilege width or depth? The central difficulty here is often to combine feasibility and relevance. In his introduction to a series of case studies done in the 1960s and 1970s, Shah writes:

A major limitation of the survey method is its inability to capture the influence of local politics on the electoral behavior of small communities. A questionnaire administered to individual voters can elicit information about individual attitudes and opinions but cannot capture the larger reality of events involving a collectivity of individuals acting over a longer period of time. A fieldworker who knows the community is better equipped to capture that reality (Shah 2007: 12).
  • 14 Both Brass (1985) and Palshikar (2007) make a forceful argument in favour of taking the constituenc (...)

30 As we saw, case studies, focusing on a limited area, 14 do offer historical depth, for example in Brass (1985). The anthropological brand of case studies also offers ‘cultural’ depth, through a wealth of concrete details which suggest the multiple meanings of elections for voters. However survey research allows generalizations; and it contextualizes results by identifying patterns, linked to regions or social groups.

31 The second dilemma concerns quantitative vs. qualitative methods. This opposition cannot be reduced to the use of figures vs. words. While many case studies involve some quantified description of the vote, they are deeply qualitative in nature, insofar as they aim at uncovering the qualities of particular political trajectories—of a community, a party, a constituency, a state etc. Survey research on the contrary aims at revealing general patterns. Here again the question of feasibility is central: while surveys are expensive, case studies are time intensive.

  • 15 For instance, the first National Election Study, conducted by the CSDS in 1967, did not take women (...)

32 An important dimension of that dilemma relates, again, to the capacity of these two types of methods to capture the meaning of elections for voters. Survey research, functioning with closed questions, conveys only the meanings that the survey design has anticipated, and risks perpetuating the prejudices of its authors. 15 By contrast, qualitative methods such as open interviews and direct observation are more likely to bring out unexpected interpretations.

33 However one large consensus appears to bridge the divide between survey research a la CSDS and case studies: the ‘ecological’ approach is preferred to the ‘strategic’ approach of elections. Ecological analyses ‘correlate electoral with other kind of aggregate data’ (Brass 1985: 3). They focus on ‘the sociological characteristics of voters, which determine the construction of their representation of politics and their social solidarity’ (Hermet et al. 2001: 31), whereas the ‘economical’ or strategic approach is based on methodological individualism and the problematic of the rational voter. Already in 1985 Paul Brass argued that ‘ecological analyses had a ‘useful place in India electoral studies’ ( ibid )—indeed he expanded on their advantages and limitations, through a detailed discussion of the methodological issues arising from the difficulty of relating electoral and census data, and of the technical solutions found by a number of works which he reviewed.

34 The evolution of National Election Studies (NES) conducted by the CSDS since 1996 shows an attempt to develop increasingly ecological types of analysis, by introducing more and more variables in their considerations. Indeed the latest surveys come close to meeting the advantages of ecological approaches as explained by Brass: ‘Identifying the underlying structural properties of party systems, […] presenting time series data to discover trends in voting behaviour, […] identifying distinctive regional contexts in which voting choices occur, and […] discovering unthought of relationships through the manipulation of available data’ (Brass 1985: 4).

35 A recent exception vis-à-vis this consensus is Kanchan Chandra’s work on ‘ethnic voting’ (Chandra 2008), which analyses electoral mobilization as a mode of negotiation used by marginal groups. Chandra argues that the poorer groups in India use their vote as ‘their primary channel of influence’. In a description of ‘elections as auctions’, she argues that the ‘purchasing power of small groups of voters’ depends ‘upon the degree to which electoral contests are competitive’ (Chandra 2004: 4). Her interpretation of the relatively high turnout in Indian elections, even as one government after the other fails the poor, is a materialist one:

16 Emphasis mine. When survival goods are allotted by the political market rather than as entitlements, voters who need these goods have no option but to participate. […] Voters do not themselves have control over the distribution of goods. But by voting strategically and voting often, they can increase their chances of obtaining these goods (Chandra 2004: 5). 16

Academic rivalries

36 The above dilemmas are extremely widespread, but in the Indian context they also correspond, to some extent, to academic rivalries between scholars and institutions, which might explain their persistence over time.

  • 17 The debate on the scientific legitimacy of survey research as opposed to more theoretical, or more (...)
  • 18 The preference for qualitative methods actually extends to other disciplines among social sciences (...)
  • 19 In this regard, Mukherji’s account of State elections in the early 1980s in a constituency of West (...)

37 One can identify, to start with, an implicit rivalry between political science and psephology—even though the latter can be considered as a sub-discipline of the former. 17 A few texts, but also interviews, reveal a mutual distrust, both in scientific and political terms. Indian political science values theoretical work more than empirical research; qualitative more than quantitative methods; 18 politically, it favours a radical critique of the political system. 19 Survey research, of course, is essentially empirical, quantitative and ‘status quoist’. Yogendra Yadav thus sums up the situation that prevailed in the late 1980s:

The label ‘ survey research’ stood for what was considered most inappropriate in the third world imitation of American science of politics: it was methodologically naïve, politically conservative and culturally inauthentic (Yadav 2008: 3).

38 Even today, quantitative methods, which are much fashionable in American (and more lately in French) political science, are hardly taught in the political science curriculum of Indian universities. Thus Kothari’s endeavour to launch a ‘so-called ‘new political science’’ in the CSDS in the 1960s—this was the time of the behaviorist revolution in social sciences—was a lonely one. He describes this ambition thus:

[It] was mainly based on the empirical method leading to detailed analytical understanding of the political processes […] The ‘ people’ came within that framework, as voters and citizens with desires, attitudes and opinions; our task as academics was to build from there towards a macro-theory of democracy, largely through empirical surveys of political behavior (by and large limited to electoral choices) but also through broader surveys of social and political change (Kothari 2002: 60-61).

39 This project actually seems to be realized through the Lokniti network which links the CSDS data unit with a number of colleges or universities across the country (and thus contributes to training an increasingly large number of students who are then hired as investigators for National and State Election studies).

40 As far as the political agenda of survey research is concerned, Yadav makes a passionate plea for ‘transfer as transformation’ (Yadav 2008: 16) i.e. for an adaptation of survey research to the political culture of countries of the global South, with a double objective: (i) to make survey research more relevant scientifically; (ii) to use it as a politically empowering device, that is ‘[…] to ensure that subaltern and suppressed opinions are made public’ (Yadav 2008: 18).

41 Much of the latent opposition between psephologists and other political scientists is probably due to the disproportionate visibility of psephologists when compared to other social scientists working on elections. But the close connection between psephology and the media is a double edged sword. On the one hand, it offers researchers a much needed financial support:

Some of the leading media publications like the Hindu, India Today, Frontline and the Economist supported [National Election Studies] between 1996 and 1999 (Lokniti team 2004: 5375).
  • 20 Thus in spite of the continuing efforts of NES to improve its methods, it failed to accurately pred (...)

42 On the other hand, it forces them to engage with the scientifically dubious, and economically risky, exercise of predicting results, 20 or explaining them immediately after their publication. However, the consistent transparency and critical self-appraisal of surveys conducted by the CSDS goes a long way in asserting their scientific credibility:

Within India, the NES series has sought to distinguish itself from the growing industry of pre-election opinion polls […] The difficulties of obtaining independent support for NES made the Lokniti group turn to media support which in turn required the group to carry out some pre-election opinion polls and even exit polls linked to seats forecast. The experiment yielded mixed results, some reasonably accurate forecasts along with some embarrassing ones (Lokniti team 2004: 5380)
  • 21 See, for instance, Lokniti Team 2004, in which the methodological flaws and evolutions (in terms of (...)

43 A more explicit and constructive debate has been taking place, lately, between psephology and anthropology. Notwithstanding his refusal to ‘participate in methodological crusades on social sciences’ (Yadav 2008: 4), Yadav has consistently sought to situate, explain, improve and diffuse his brand of survey research on elections 21 . His call for a ‘dialogue’, elaborated upon by Palshikar (‘how to integrate the methods and insights of field study and survey research’ 2007: 25) has been answered by Mukulika Banerjee, who is currently directing, along with Lokniti, an unprecedented project of Comparative Electoral Ethnography, which aims at ‘bringing together the strengths of large-scale and local-level investigations’ ( www.lokniti.org/comparative_electoral_ethnography.html accessed in May 2009) .

Political issues

44 One can distinguish three types of relationship between elections studies and politics, which correspond to three distinct, if related, questions. Firstly, how do elections studies meet the need of political actors? Secondly, to what extent are they an offshoot of American political science? And thirdly, what representation of democracy do they support?

45 Firstly, the development of survey research is directly linked to Indian political life:

In the 1950s there were virtually no market research organizations in India. The dominance of the Congress diminished any incentive to develop political polls (Butler et al . 1995: 41).

46 At the time of the second non-Congress government at the Centre (1989-1991), political parties started commissioning surveys which they used to build their electoral strategy (Rao 2009). Indian elections have been decided at the state level since the 1990s, and the proliferation of national pre-poll survey from the 1991 election onwards can be linked to the uncertainty of the electoral results in a context of increasing assertion of regional parties (Rao 2009). The fact that the CSDS resumed its elections series in 1996 is doubtlessly linked to the transformations that have been characterizing the Indian political scene since the beginning of that decade. The rise to power of the Bahujan Samaj Party in Uttar Pradesh and its emergence in other North Indian states, and more generally the fragmentation of political representation, with new parties representing increasingly smaller social groups, has made it increasingly necessary to know who votes for which party in which state—and why.

47 Furthermore the decentralization policy adopted in 1992 has generated a lot of interest both from actors and observers of Indian politics. Today the newfound interest for ethnographic, locally rooted types of election studies may well have to do with the fact that the national scale is increasingly challenged as the most relevant one to understand Indian politics.

48 Secondly, a more covert, but no less important aspect of the debate relates to what could be roughly called the ‘Western domination’ of survey research. Methods have been learnt by leading Indian figures in the United States or in the United Kingdom (even in the 2000s, CSDS members get trained in the summer school in survey research in Michigan University). Authors are often American (or working in the American academia). Funding often involves foreign funding agencies.

  • 22 This problem is not restricted to survey research alone: thus Mitra evokes the ‘Americanisation of (...)
  • 23 Linz, Stepan and Yadav 2007 represents a good example of the changing status of the Indian case in (...)

24 See Fauvelle 2008.

49 More importantly, the key concepts of survey research are often drawn from the rich field of American election studies, 22 and particularly from behaviourism, a school of thought which is rejected by part of the Indian academia. Lastly, the general (and often implicit) reference to which the Indian scenario is compared is actually the United States and Western Europe. On the one hand, these comparative efforts 23 testify to the fact that India is not an outsider any more as far as democracies are concerned. On the other hand, one can regret an excessive focus, in comparisons, on the West, insofar as it skews the assessment of the Indian case (for instance the Indian pattern of voter turnout, which is qualified as ‘exceptional’ by Yadav because it breaks from the trend observed in North America and Western Europe, might appear less so if it was compared, say, to post-Apartheid South Africa). 24

50 Thirdly, all election studies support a (more or less implicit) discourse on Indian democracy; they can always be read as a ‘state of democracy report’ (Jayal 2006). In this regard, one of the criticisms addressed to psephological studies is that their narrow focus tends to convey a rosy picture, since elections are usually considered as ‘free and fair’ in the Indian democracy, which is often qualified as ‘procedural’, i.e. which conforms to democratic procedures (regular elections and political alternance, a free press) but not to democratic values (starting with equality). The sheer magnitude of the logistics involved in conducting national elections is bound to evoke admiring appraisals, which tend to obliterate the limits of procedural democracy. Thus Jayal criticizes the ‘the fallacy of electoralism’:

The scholars who subscribe to the limited, proceduralist view of democracy, are generally buoyant about Indian democracy... Their analyses emphatically exclude the many social and economic inequalities that make it difficult for even formal participation to be effective (Jayal 2001: 3).

51 Moreover the huge costs involved in conducting sample surveys on ever larger samples imply that the funders—which include the media—can put pressure on the team conducting the survey. And one can see two reasons why survey research is so media friendly: one, its (supposed) ability to predict results makes it an indispensable component of the horse-race, entertaining aspect of elections; two, it contributes to the ‘feel good’ factor as it shows, election after election, that the turnout is high and that results are unpredictable; it thus gives credit to the idea of democratic choice.

52 To this positive assessment, some Indian political scientists oppose the more critical vision offered by case studies of Indian politics focusing not on the mainstream, but on the margins. Here anthropology offers a way out, since the informed perspective of the long time fieldworker allows a simultaneous perception of the mainstream and of the margins. Thus the works of Hauser and Singer or that of Banerjee, offering a minute description of the various ‘ceremonies’ that together constitute the election process from the vantage point of voters, highlight both the empowering and the coercive dimensions of voting. Their studies suggest that when it comes to elections, the relationship between celebration and alienation is a very subtle one.

53 Elections are a complex, multi-dimensional social and political event which can be captured only through a variety of methods: this literature review underlines how the different approaches complete each other and are therefore equally necessary. While Indian election studies, at least at the national and state levels, have been dominated, since the 1990s, by survey research, the Lokniti based project of ‘Comparative Electoral Ethnography’ should contribute to restoring some balance between various types of studies. Also, academic debates around the scientific and political implications and limitations of election studies seem to lead to a convergence: while questionnaire-based surveys evolve towards a finer apprehension of the opinions and attitudes of Indian voters, anthropological studies strive to overcome the limitations of fieldwork based on a single, limited area.

  • 25 For instance anthropological studies tend to focus on the short period comprised between the beginn (...)

54 One can regret that studies of Indian elections, by all disciplines, tend to focus exclusively on the vote, which certainly is a climactic moment of the electoral process, but by no means the only interesting one. 25 Indeed a recent attempt by the CSDS team to understand participation beyond voting, in order to qualify the ‘second democratic upsurge’ (Yadav 2000) through a state wise analysis of the 2004 Lok Sabha elections, suggests that a broader definition of the electoral process might significantly contribute to solving the ‘puzzle of Indian democracy’ (Chibber & Petrocik 1989, Lijphart 1996). They conclude that ‘comparison across social sections shows that a broader entry of the underprivileged into the political arena is much more limited, even today, than the entry of the more privileged social sections’ (Palshikar & Kumar 2004: 5414). The complementarities of different approaches are here glaring: ethnographic work is much needed to understand the implications of the fact that ‘over the years there is a steady increase in the number of people who participated in election campaign activity’ (Palshikar & Kumar 2004: 5415).

55 One wishes also that anthropological studies of future elections deal not only with the traditional elements of voting (the campaign procession, the inking of the finger etc.), but also with newer elements of the process: what has been the impact of the model code of conduct, or of the increasing use of SMS and internet in the campaign, on electoral rituals? What about the collective watching of TV shows focusing on elections, both before and after the results are known?

56 Finally, at a time when election surveys have acquired an unprecedented visibility, due to their relationship with the mass media, one can only lament the absence of rigorous studies on the role of the media, both print and audio-visual, in funding, shaping and publicizing election studies.


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Roy, Ramashray; Wallace, Paul (1999) Indian Politics and the 1998 Election: Regionalism, Hindutva and State Politics , New Delhi, Thousand Oaks, London: Sage Publications.

Saez, Lawrence (2001) ‘The 1999 General Election in India’, Electoral Studies , 20, pp. 164-9.

Shah, A.M. (2007) ‘Introduction’, in A.M. Shah (ed.), The Grassroots of Democracy: Field Studies of Indian Elections , Delhi: Permanent black, pp. 1-27.

Shastri, Sandeep; Suri, K.C.; Yadav, Yogendra (2009) Electoral Politics in Indian States: Lok Sabha Elections in 2004 and Beyond , Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Singer, Wendy (2007) ‘A Constituency Suitable for Ladies’ And Other Social Histories of Indian Elections , New Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Somjee, A.H. (1959) Voting Behaviour in an Indian Village , Baroda: M.S.University.

Sundar, Nandini; Deshpande, Satish; Uberoi, Patricia (2000) ‘Indian Anthropology and Sociology: Towards a History’, Economic and Political Weekly , 10 June, pp. 1998-2002.

Weiner, Myron (1978), India at the Polls. The Parliamentary Elections of 1977 , Washington D.C.: American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research.

Yadav, Yogendra (2000) ‘Understanding the Second Democratic Upsurge: Trends of Bahujan Participation in Electoral Politics in the 1990s’, in Francine R. Frankel; Zoya Hasan; Rajeev Bhargava; Balveer Arora (eds.), Transforming India: Social and Political Dynamics of Democracy , Delhi: Oxford University Press.

Yadav, Yogendra (2007) ‘Invitation to a dialogue: What work does ‘fieldwork’ do in the field of elections?’, in A.M. Shah (ed.), The Grassroots of Democracy: Field Studies of Indian Elections , Delhi: Permanent black, pp. 345-68.

Yadav, Yogendra (2008) ‘Whither Survey Research? Reflections on the State of Survey Research on Politics in Most of the World’, Malcom Adiseshiah Memorial Lecture, Chennai.

1 Most works considered here deal with national elections, but some of them also focus on state elections.

2 I owe this formulation to Amit Prakash, whose comments on a previous version of this paper were very helpful.

3 Another example is a study of parliamentary and state elections in a village in Orissa at the end of Emergency, in which S. Mitra describes the caste dynamics in the village and the way it plays out during electoral times to show how ‘elections are used as instruments by various sections of the society to convert their political resources and power into authority’ (Mitra 1979: 419).

4 In the early years of independent India, the Indian Council for Social Science Research (ICSSR) commissioned a series of case studies, some of which are reviewed by Narain (1978). A more recently published volume offers a sample of such studies, conducted in the late 1960s by the sociology department of Delhi University under the supervision of M.N.Srinivas and A.M.Shah (Shah 2007).

5 One must note that among the various disciplines producing case studies, anthropology uses the largest definition of political participation, to include not only voting, but also participating in meetings, supporting the campaign of a particular party or candidate etc.

6 One must also mention the ‘Chronicle of an Impossible Election’— i.e. the 2002 Assembly election in Jammu and Kashmir - as told by the then Chief Election Commissioner, J.M. Lyngdoh (2004), which provides an insider’s view of how election procedures are the result of a series of (sometimes minute) decisions—aiming at asserting that the Election Commission does not represent the Indian government.

7 This is in sharp contrast with France, where electoral geographers such as André Siegfried have been the founding fathers of political science. For an illustration of how geography enriches our understanding of elections, see Lefèbvre and Robin in this volume.

8 This inventory of ‘ other’ election studies, that is, studies of elections that fall neither in the ‘case study’ nor in the ‘survey research’ type, would obviously become much more complex and large if we were to include in it the large body of literature on the party system, or on the federal structure as they evolve over time in India. However that literature does take elections as its main focus, and has therefore not been considered here.

10 The CSDS was meant, in Kothari’s own words: ‘One, to give a truly empirical base to political science [...] Two, to engage in a persistent set of writings through which our broad conceptualisation of democracy in India was laid out [...] And three, institutionalise not just the Centre as a place of learning but as part of the larger intellectual process itself’ (Kothari 2002: 39-40). Over the years, the CSDS has retained a unique place in the Indian academia, as it remains distinct from universities even while engaging in a number of collaborations with their faculty—Lokniti being a case in point.

11 The CSDS did not even study the 1977 election, on which we fortunately have Myron Weiner’s monograph.

12 The CSDS entered into a stable partnership with the new channel six months before it went on air, which testifies to the saleability of this brand of research. One week before the results of the Fifteenth election were announced, huge signboards bore a picture of the star anchor of CNN-IBN along with Yogendra Yadav, asserting the latter’s increasing popularity.

13 The ‘notes on elections’ published in Electoral Studies favour a strongly institutional perspective, concerned almost exclusively with political parties (the alliances they form, the issues they raise, the candidates they select etc.) Interestingly, nothing is said about voters.

14 Both Brass (1985) and Palshikar (2007) make a forceful argument in favour of taking the constituency as a unit of analysis.

15 For instance, the first National Election Study, conducted by the CSDS in 1967, did not take women voters into account! (Lokniti team 2004: 5374).

16 Emphasis mine.

17 The debate on the scientific legitimacy of survey research as opposed to more theoretical, or more qualitative, approaches is by no means restricted to India. Political science is a relatively young discipline, defined more by its objects than by its methods, and by a scientific community that strives to assert its scientific credentials. In this regard, electoral surveys have an ambiguous record. On the one hand, the highly technical aspect of quantitative methods gives an image of ‘scientificity’; on the other hand, the proximity (in terms of sponsors, institutions and publication supports) of electoral surveys to opinion polls (characterized by a large margin of error, and a close association with marketing techniques) maintains a doubt on the scientificity of this sub-discipline.

18 The preference for qualitative methods actually extends to other disciplines among social sciences in India: ‘A tabulation of articles in Contributions to Indian Sociology and the Sociological Bulletin [...], though not a comprehensive account of scholarship in sociology and social anthropology, did nevertheless seem to substantiate the fact that ethnographic methods far outpaced any other kind of research method’ (Sundar et al. 2000: 2000).

19 In this regard, Mukherji’s account of State elections in the early 1980s in a constituency of West Bengal dominated by Naxalites is an exception among monographic studies of elections. The book offers a candid evocation of the methodological dilemmas, constraints and solutions inherent in studying elections, and particularly of the political agenda behind election studies (in this particular case, the author, engaged in a study of the Naxalite movement, presents himself early on as a Naxalite) (Mukherji 1983).

20 Thus in spite of the continuing efforts of NES to improve its methods, it failed to accurately predict the results of elections, both in 2004 and in 2009.

21 See, for instance, Lokniti Team 2004, in which the methodological flaws and evolutions (in terms of sample size, number of languages used, decentralization of data entry and analysis etc.) of National Election Studies are discussed in detail.

22 This problem is not restricted to survey research alone: thus Mitra evokes the ‘Americanisation of [the study of] ethnic politics in the Indian context’ (Mitra 2005: 327)

23 Linz, Stepan and Yadav 2007 represents a good example of the changing status of the Indian case in comparative studies of democracy—from an exception to a major case.

25 For instance anthropological studies tend to focus on the short period comprised between the beginning of the electoral campaign and the announcement of results. A larger timeframe is needed if we are to understand how clientelism operates through the electoral process.

Electronic reference

Stéphanie Tawa Lama-Rewal , “ Studying Elections in India: Scientific and Political Debates ” ,  South Asia Multidisciplinary Academic Journal [Online], 3 | 2009, Online since 23 December 2009 , connection on 20 November 2023 . URL : http://journals.openedition.org/samaj/2784; DOI : https://doi.org/10.4000/samaj.2784

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118 Elections Essay Topics

🏆 best election essay topics, 📚 good election essay examples & research topics, 🎓 most interesting research topics on elections, ❓ research questions about elections, ✍️ great voting essay titles.

  • Leaders Traits and the US Elections Based on popular theories of leadership, this essay dwells on this notion regardless of isolated exceptions. Tall personalities make better leaders than their short counterparts.
  • American Ex-Presidents: the Election of Barack Obama The election of Barack Obama as the first African American president was a major event that transformed the country’s history. This paper offers arguments and discussions to support the thesis.
  • Barack Obama Election: Events and Facts, That Defined the Occasion This paper will scrutinize the election of Barrack Obama by delving into the events and facts, which defined the occasion.
  • The Vice Presidential Debate US Elections 2012 The debate took place at The Central College in Danville- Kentucky. This was between Joe Biden of the Democratic Party and Ryan Paul of the Republican Party.
  • Presidential Elections: Strengths and Weaknesses Mass media is one of the decisive factors in presidential elections affecting the outcome through three major areas: exit polls, presidential debates, and spots.
  • Hillary Clinton’s and Donald Trump’s Elections The elections of the new president in the United States have never been more interesting and controversial as the current opposition of Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
  • Elections in ABC News, The Guardian, PolitiFact The media content analysis dealt with the upcoming election. The ABC News, The Guardian, and the PolitiFact were selected for this assignment.
  • Elections: From the Fresh Start to the Steady Leadership A proper research subject here may be the attempts of George W. Bush to win the political elections of 2000 and 2004, especially the advertisements used at that time.
  • The First Lady: US Campaigns and Elections Over centuries, the role of the First Lady has significantly evolved to reflect current political realities and expectations of the public.
  • Party Platforms and Winning Elections According to the Republican Party’s policy, the party believes in freedom. It states that it is “a party of freedom”, with a vision of “free speech, labor and soil”.
  • Electoral College or Game of Elections The Electoral College selects the president as opposed to a popular vote. This paper argues that the Electoral College has become more democratic contrary to recent criticism.
  • Election Campaigns and Logical Fallacies The general direction of a country’s movement depends on the decision of voters. This paper aims to discuss three logical fallacies, an unfair election case and gerrymandering.
  • Voters’ Characteristics in Presidential Elections The characteristics of voters involved in the presidential election campaigns are an important criterion for determining such indicators as prevailing age and race characteristics.
  • 2020 Presidential Elections in the United States At the next US presidential election, as usual, the Americans will choose the president of the country along with his candidacy for the position of vice president.
  • Election Ethics: Voting vs. Maintaining Neutrality In the Election Day Scenario, I believe that I ought to go to the polls and vote for Superior to be elected President.
  • Marketing Techniques of Obama’s Election Campaign The purpose of this paper is to examine the marketing techniques of Obama’s election campaign as well as to define their positive and negative aspects.
  • Campaigns, Elections, and Political Participation The question of the role of “big money” in American politics elicits widespread controversies that remain unresolved to date.
  • Russian Cyberterrorism and the United States Election 2016 The present paper attempts to contribute data to the discussion of the topic of the Russian electoral interference of 2016 by conducting a case study of that accident.
  • American Government: Voting, Campaigns, and Elections The process of voting in the United States is complex, with several rules and outcomes. The modern voting system is not perfect due to weak voter registration and low turnout.
  • John McCain vs. Barack Obama: Elections Campaign Never in the history of US Presidential elections has a campaign been more closely followed nationally as well as globally as that of the two contenders, John McCain and Barack Obama.
  • The Role of the Economy in the 2008 Election The year 2008 is a presidential election year. Many people believed there would be a significant shift in government.
  • US Presidential Election Problems Analysis America needs leadership that will take its citizens in a direction that is of forgiveness, consultation, compassion, and peace to become a shining example for the aspirations of the world.
  • The Agents Of Change: US Election Problems are part and parcel of every day life and in fact, it is rare to hear that any given individual has absolutely no problem.
  • US Presidential Election of 1896 The essay recounts the major developments during the presential elections of 1896 describes why it was the most exciting in the history of the United States.
  • America’s 2000 Presidential Elections The 2000 presidential elections in America saw a heated contest between George W. Bush, who vied as a republican candidate and Al Gore, who was a democrat candidate.
  • Kirkuk City and the 2010 Elections in Iraq Many politicians from Iraq have been head over heels campaign over Kirkuk, this is more so for the Kurds and the Arabs who want to control the city.
  • Exercise Your Right to Vote in the Upcoming Election Voting is a right that has been given to every citizen; you can not afford to deny yourself this right by simply watching how people are voting and not participating in it.
  • E-Consultation: Enabling Democracy Between Elections Increasing public involvement in political issues is a major issue in democracy. Most countries in the world are democratic.
  • Unprecedented – The 2000 Presidential Election The film Unprecedented – The 2000 Presidential Election can be evaluated as a great piece of reliable information featuring a row of true historical details.
  • Election of 1800 and Modern Presidential Election The essay will explain why the election of 1800 is considered “dirty,” and how the actions of the statesmen of that time are compared with that of contemporary politicians.
  • Role of Economics in the Upcoming Elections The variety of topics to be considered by the voters is unprecedented, and the polarized views of society make the outcome even more unpredictable.
  • The Activity of Citizens During Elections The activity of citizens during elections is a topical and discussed issue in developed countries. Speaking about the activity of voters in the USA recently, it’s, on average lower.
  • Politics in the United States: Elections This paper tells about voting as a democratic process that allows citizens to elect leaders whose manifestos resonate with their goals.
  • The Presidential Elections in the US of 2020: Personal Review To become the president, a candidate should gain 270 votes out of 538. Since the process of the elections is repeated every four years, it is debugged, and nothing could go wrong.
  • Will or Won’t: Trump’s Re-Election on November 3rd Pre-election surveys and poll opinions from diverse groups play a critical role in determining the possible winner in every election.
  • Impact of the 2008 Election on the Hispanic Population The 2008 presidential election can be considered a major historical event, as the percentage of the Hispanic population that voted for Obama was the highest ever.
  • Trump: Elections and Presidency The purpose of the paper is to describe the process of Trump’s election and governance, as well as his defeat in the current election.
  • Factors That Edify the Outcome of Presidential Election This essay discusses the main factors which illuminated the possible winner of the recent US presidential election.
  • The 2007–2008 Kenya Post-Election Crisis This paper gives a negotiation analysis underlying the 2007 – 2008 Kenyan peace deal, which was struck through the mediation of Kofi Annan, ending the post-election violence.
  • Healthcare Reform Issue on Presidential 2012 Elections Coming closer to Election Day for presidential polls, the American people face one of the most challenging times in deciding on an appropriate office bearer.
  • Election Reforms in the State of Georgia Lawmakers in the state of Georgia recently passed a state election law brought by republicans. The bill passed due to the critics who protested outside the capital.
  • Predictive Analytics of Voter Behavior in 2020 Presidential Election Predictive analytics provides politicians and other stakeholders with sound tools to evaluate people’s attitudes and possible outcomes of the elections.
  • Public-Private Partnerships for Election Systems Cybersecurity The paper explores the public-private partnership and explains benefits for businesses, costs, and risks, and offers a recommendation for companies.
  • Elections in Australia: Public Information Campaign This paper dwells upon how the campaign devoted to the issues of elections in Australia was effective and how the flow of information affected the movement.
  • 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial Elections Contenders The paper is devoted to the 2021 Virginia Gubernatorial Elections contenders: Kirk Cox, Amanda Chase, Sergio De La Pena, Peter Doran, and Pete Snyder.
  • Election in the United States in the Context of Democratic Values Evidently, the United States of America became one of the first nations in the world’s history, which were built upon the principles of democracy.
  • Presidential Election Process in The United States The United States presidential election process involves an indirect election in which citizens vote for electoral candidates.
  • “US Election 2020: What Is the Electoral College?” by Moran “Us Election 2020: What Is the Electoral College?” narrates the voting system in the United States and explains what the electoral college is.
  • Samuel Tilden in the Controversial 1876 Election The controversial election of 1876 can be considered stolen according to many researchers, but Samuel Tilden conceded the results without fighting for them.
  • Elections: Citizen Participation Citizens’ right to vote, regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or socioeconomic background, is referred to as citizen participation.
  • Parties, Interest Groups, and Elections in the US Political parties represent different common views on all crucial topics for society and allow their members to promote socially essential topics that are seen as critical.
  • The U.S. Supreme Court Election System The elections of the US Supreme Court members are politicized and ideologized, which is incompatible with democratic values and contrary to the Constitution.
  • Lessons from Trump’s Election on Power in America This paper focuses on Trump’s election and the events in his administration that showed the role of racism, white supremacy, populism, sexism, polarization, and identity politics.
  • Elections an the Role of Ethical Behavior Ethics is an important element of democracy in general and elections in particular. Ethical behavior is essential for fair elections in any egalitarian system.
  • Lobbyists and Their Role in Presidential Elections
  • Free Zambia and Kenya Elections Analysis
  • Macroeconomic Policy and Elections: Theories and Challenges
  • Information Warfare Attack Vectors and the Influence Upon Democratic Elections
  • Socio-cultural Influences and Elections in Russia
  • Internal Processes Governing Party Positions in Elections
  • Elections and Market Provision of Information
  • Presidential Elections and Democratic Party
  • Elections, Ideology, and Turnover in the U.S. Federal Government
  • Mexican Americans and Presidential Elections
  • Have Village Elections Democratized Rural China?
  • Elections, Voting Rules, and Paradoxical Outcomes
  • Should Social Network Structure Be Taken Into Account in Elections?
  • Political Parties Should Have Restrictions During Elections
  • Elections, Fraud, and Election Monitoring in the Shadow of Revolution
  • Social Norms and the Paradox of Elections’ Turnout
  • Interpreting the Predictive Uncertainty of Elections
  • Elections and Political Risk: New Evidence From Political Prediction Markets in Taiwan
  • Has Immigration Affected Spanish Presidential Elections Results?
  • Elections and Subjective Living Conditions in Sub-saharan Africa
  • Free and Open Elections Are the Cornerstone to Any Democracy
  • Incumbency and Parliamentary Elections in India
  • Are Elections Debt Brakes?
  • Are Free Elections Necessary to Have a Democracy?
  • How Are Elections Done?
  • Are State Elections Affected by the National Economy?
  • Why Do We Need Elections?
  • Can Information Increase Turnout in European Parliament Elections?
  • What Is the Role of Elections?
  • What Is Elections Awareness?
  • Does Satire Influence Elections?
  • When Was the First Elections Held in the World?
  • What Are the Stages of Elections?
  • Who Is Responsible for the Conduct of Elections?
  • Why Are Elections Important in a Democracy?
  • What Are the Biggest Challenges for Economic Policy After the German Bundestag Elections?
  • What Role Does the U.S. Election Assistance Commission Play in the Administration of Elections?
  • What Are Swing Voters and How Important Are They in US Elections?
  • What Is the Duration of the Elections Period?
  • What Explains the Decline of Voter Turnout in Parliamentary Elections Over the Last 40 Years?
  • How Elections and Parties Shape the Provision of Local Public Goods?
  • How Sensitive Are Governors to Coming Elections?
  • How Many Members Are There in the Elections Commission?
  • How Does the Electoral College Work in Contemporary Presidential Elections?
  • How Campaigns Enhance European Issues Voting During European Parliament Elections?
  • Who Can Be Appointed as Presiding Officer in Elections?
  • How Did the Internet and New Media Affect the 2008 Presidential Elections?
  • What Is Security Deposit in Elections?
  • What Is the Meaning of Local Elections?
  • How Effective Are Elections in the UK?
  • How Do Elections Affect Fiscal Policy and Growth?
  • Exercising Democracy: The Role of Voting in Shaping the Nation’s Future
  • The Role of Media in Voter Perception and Decision-Making
  • Exploring Innovations in Electoral Systems: Future of Voting
  • Youth and the Vote – Encouraging Political Engagement among the Next Generation
  • Non-Citizens in Democratic Voting Processes
  • Voting Rights in Times of Crisis: Ensuring Access Amidst Challenges
  • Empowering Citizens Through Informed Decision-Making
  • Voting as Civic Duty: Nurturing a Culture of Responsible Citizenship
  • The Influence of Campaign Finance on Electoral Outcomes
  • Analyzing the Effects of Low and High Participation Rates
  • Impact of Gerrymandering on Electoral Representation and Democracy
  • Electoral College Debate: Pros and Cons of America’s Unique Voting System
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2019 polls research paper by ashoka university faculty sparks political row, a research paper by an ashoka university faculty member, which hinted at possibilities of voter manipulation during the 2019 polls, has drawn sharp reactions from both sides of the political spectrum. the university has distanced itself from the research paper..

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A research paper by a faculty member at Ashoka University, a liberal arts and sciences institute, claiming to show evidence of irregularities in voter counts during the 2019 general election has sparked a political row. The research paper has drawn sharp reactions from both sides of the political spectrum. Some have questioned the validity of the research while others have labelled the paper 'findings' as troubling.

The paper, titled 'Democratic Backsliding in the World's Largest Democracy', has been authored by Sabyasachi Das, an Assistant Professor of Economics at the university.

An abstract of the paper, which was posted on social media on Monday, stated that the research in it "contributes to the discussion by documenting irregular patterns in the 2019 general election in India and identifying whether they are due to electoral manipulation or precise control, i.e., the incumbent party's ability to precisely predict and affect win margins through campaigning".

"I compile several new datasets and present evidence that is consistent with electoral manipulation in closely contested constituencies and is less supportive of the precise control hypothesis. Manipulation appears to take the form of targeted electoral discrimination against India's largest minority group -- Muslims, partly facilitated by weak monitoring by election observers. The results present a worrying development for the future of democracy," the paper's author, Das, said in the abstract.

The research paper triggered a political debate on Monday, with leaders from the Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) weighing in.

2019 polls research paper by Ashoka University faculty sparks political row

Comparative Electoral Systems Research Paper

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I. Introduction

Academic writing, editing, proofreading, and problem solving services, get 10% off with fall23 discount code, iii. applications and empirical evidence, iv. policy implications, v. future directions, vi. conclusion.

Elections are central to the functioning of democratic systems, and as such they have been the focus of extensive political science research for centuries. Scholars and practitioners seek to understand the variation in choices of different electoral systems cross-nationally. They also try to isolate the impact of those choices on a range of individual-, institutional-, and system-level outcomes. Those outcomes include the quality and breadth of representation; size and polarization of political party systems; citizen participation and voting behavior; and government, as well as system, stability. Much of the research conducted on electoral systems and elections has evolved from theoretical and empirical work on the United States and other established Western democracies (especially those in Europe), but considerable effort in recent decades has been devoted to understanding elections in transitioning and new democracies globally. Although elections do take place in nondemocratic polities, they usually fail to be free, fair, or competitive and therefore typically fall outside the domain of comparative research. What is clear is that the increasing sophistication of theoretical and statistical tools available to political scientists (along with an expanding universe of cases against which to test expectations) has resulted in important advances in our understanding electoral systems and elections. Because electoral processes and outcomes exert such profound effects on the real world of politics, such understanding is an example of the crucial connection between theory and practice in political science.

A first level of comparison identifies the different types of elections designed to determine national executive power. Presidents and other chief political executives may be elected through direct or indirect means. In direct elections of presidents and presidential-type executives, voters cast ballots for one of the eligible candidates. A candidate can win outright in a single round of voting by garnering an absolute majority of the ballots cast; however, when no one candidate captures 50% plus one of the eligible votes, a runoff round is held at a subsequent date, with the top two finishers from the first round squaring off. This model of direct executive election (exemplified by countries such as France, Russia, Poland, and Argentina) has the putative advantage of providing a wide range of candidates from which voters may choose in the first round. If a second round proves necessary, the system then yields a winner supported by an absolute majority of those turning out for the runoff. Indirect election of a country’s president or other executive leader, alternatively, entails voters’ selecting other persons (electors), who will then determine the winner. The United States, for example, uses an indirect mechanism whereby voters choose presidential electors, who then comprise the Electoral College, which then votes on who will become the next president. That process leaves open the possibility that the person chosen to be president by the Electoral College is not the same person who secured the greatest number of votes among the general population. Elsewhere, directly elected parliaments (either an upper house or both houses in joint session) constitute the arena in which presidents are indirectly selected; this occurs in Germany and Italy, for example. When Westminster style parliamentary systems (i.e., those modeled after the British House of Commons) use votes by legislators in plenary sessions to approve (or remove) prime ministers as heads of government, they are engaging in indirect elections of political executives. Taking the selection of national leaders out of the direct control of voters represents the skepticism that constitutional architects have for the general population, and it can provide an apparent elite-level check on the sentiments of mass electorates.

The second major dimension along which political scientists compare elections is the method of voting for legislative assemblies. Indeed, examining legislative elections across countries reveals considerable variation in such key dimensions as district magnitude, electoral formulae, ballot structure, and the use of electoral thresholds. District magnitude refers to the number of candidates who will be elected to a legislature from any given constituency, and the basic distinction here is between systems that rely on single-member districts and those that employ multimember districts. District magnitude is usually studied in tandem with the system’s chosen electoral formula, which represents the particular mechanism for translating votes into legislative seats. Such mechanisms are most frequently of the plurality, majoritarian, and proportional varieties. In the single-member district system, a country is divided into discrete electoral districts from which one individual will emerge as the elected representative. This system normally relies on a plurality rule, meaning that the candidate with the most votes wins (regardless of whether that candidate has captured an absolute majority). As such, single-member district systems are often deemed first past the post systems and also constitute a winner-take-all approach that provides no electoral prize for coming in second. The United States and the United Kingdom are among the countries where the single-member plurality system has a long-standing history; however, a range of countries elsewhere—including Canada, Ghana, and India—have adopted the same method. Others, most notably France, employ a single-member district system with two rounds of voting. In such cases, individual candidates can win outright in the first round with an absolute majority of votes cast, or they can secure the plurality of votes cast among eligible candidates in the second-round runoff. Single-member district systems are defended by their advocates as those that can enhance clarity of responsibility and democratic accountability by giving citizens in each district one individual to whom credit or blame can be assigned. The clarity and accountability that are supposed to accompany majoritarian governance should, according to this logic, produce more stable and effective polities. Detractors, however, find that aggregating district-level winner-take-all elections into a national whole can produce skewed representation in the legislature. For example, a party that runs a consistent and respectable second place throughout the country but that fails to win any single district would be excluded from taking seats in the legislature. Such a system, then, has the potential to underrepresent small parties in a democracy.

The alternative to single-member, winner-take-all systems of electing representative assemblies is one based on proportional representation (PR) in multimember districts. In PR systems, the goal is to have the percentage of a party’s seats in the legislature reflect the percentage vote share captured by that party in the general election. The party securing 25% of the vote would, accordingly, be rewarded with 25% (either exactly or approximately) of the legislative seats. Here ballot structure, which shapes how voters cast their votes, becomes critically important. Ballots can be categorical or ordinal. The categorical ballot structure allows a single either–or choice of one candidate. By contrast, the ordinal ballot structure gives voters the opportunity to vote for more than one candidate. In some ordinal ballots, political parties devise rank ordered lists of candidates to determine which persons ultimately claim those seats. In this closed party list system, citizens vote only for a party in a multimember constituency (often the whole country), whereas in an open party list system, voters can choose from a published list or select an individual candidate. The closed party list mechanism clearly vests considerable power in the hands of party leadership. Often, PR systems will set a minimum threshold (5% in Germany, for example) that parties must clear in order to win seats. Electoral thresholds are an increasingly common way for PR systems to limit the entry of minor (and sometimes extremist) parties into legislatures. Thresholds normally require a minimum percentage of votes or a minimum number of seats in order for a party to gain seats in a legislature. Thresholds vary, with some countries opting to set the bar low (Israel, for example, at 2%) and others raising it to high levels (e.g., Turkey, at 10%). Numerous varieties of proportional representation exist, each with different counting and procedural mechanisms. One such variety is the single transferable vote method. By this method, voters rank candidates preferentially, and if a voter’s first-choice candidate has already cleared a set threshold and does not need additional support to win, then that vote is transferred to a second choice. This process, exemplified most clearly by Ireland, is designed to avoid “wasting” votes.

Although there is a tendency among political scientists to classify electoral systems in democratic countries into either the majoritarian or proportional camp, the reality is that many hybrid or mixed systems exist in between those two types. The additional member system, for example, combines elements of conventional first-past-the-post systems with some characteristics of party-list proportional systems. In this combination, voters get two votes: The first helps allocate seats to single-member constituencies, and the second goes to a party list. The percentage of second or party-list votes won by a party determines the party’s overall number of representatives, and the number of seats won in single-member districts is “topped off” to match that overall percentage. This method finds use in elections to Germany’s Bundestag, New Zealand’s House of Representatives, and the Scottish and Welsh Assemblies in the United Kingdom. The presumed advantage of this mixed member system approach is that proportionality is ensured, and at the same time, a directly accountable representative for each constituency is also identified. It is also said to allow strategic voters to express support for an individual politician while not necessarily endorsing that candidate’s political party. Disadvantages are said to include the creation of two (potentially unequal) classes of politicians, with those elected under the second-ballot topping off beholden not to the voters but to party leaders instead.

While elections in democratic settings constitute the overwhelming preponderance of all voting processes studied by political scientists, it is important to note that nondemocratic systems (e.g., authoritarian and semiauthoritarian systems) can also employ electoral mechanisms. Such regimes may organize controlled and uncontested elections as a means of mobilizing mass endorsement of a national leader or a single-party legislature. Doing so can provide symbolic legitimacy for the ruling elite, and it may neutralize popular discontent by creating the false appearance of citizens having a say in the affairs of their country. For example, while the Communist Party monopolizes power and controls political processes in China, direct elections of village-level offices do take place, as do indirect elections for people’s congresses above the local level. The one-party Soviet Union held its own brand of uncontested elections, as did Iraq under Saddam Hussein. Brazil under military rule orchestrated compulsory voting in tightly controlled elections, even though the frequency of blank and spoiled ballots often suggested popular rejection of the process. Semicompetitive, hegemonic party systems such as Egypt’s hold elections in which there is little a priori uncertainty of the outcomes; there is, in such cases, some element of choice and voter expression. Although nondemocratic variants of the electoral process illustrate more about a regime’s methods of system control than they do about representation, responsiveness, and accountability, they clearly merit attention.

Some democratic theorists view elections as a central— if not the central—component of liberal democracy. Indeed, in this view, elections constitute the minimum necessary requirement for democracy. For Schumpeter (1942), democracy is “that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people’s vote” (p. 269). Likewise for Huntington (1993), democracy is defined most essentially by the fair and periodic voting procedures that select a country’s leaders. Przeworski, Alvarez, Cheibub, and Limongi (2000) also view contested elections—that is, those in which there is ex ante uncertainty and ex post irreversibility— as the litmus test for democracy. Others, such as Dahl (1971), counter that such a thin, minimalist, or procedural definition of democracy-as-elections fails to account for other necessary conditions, such as the protection of civil liberties and the actual responsiveness of government policies to voter preferences. Whether sufficient or not, elections typically figure as necessary conditions for the existence of democracy.

Theoretical work on elections and comparative electoral systems has largely focused on (a) the relationship between electoral rules and the size and polarization of political party systems, (b) the tendency of certain electoral systems to impact voter turnout and citizen participation, (c) the congruence between electoral verdicts and government policy, and (d) the potential for electoral systems to predispose new or transitioning systems to success or failure. Political scientists developing theory in each of these areas represent some of the main ontological camps in the discipline, such as structuralists, rationalists, and culturalists. As such, attention has been devoted to formal rules, voter preferences and behavior, and the contextual influence on system choice and outcomes.

The causal relationship between electoral rules and the nature of a country’s political party system has animated scholarly interest for decades. Perhaps the most famous proposition, tested repeatedly since its early assertion by Duverger in 1954, is that plurality elections using one ballot single-member districts will favor the creation of two-party systems whereas proportional representation rules with multimember districts will lead to multiparty systems. Duverger went further to posit that a majority vote on two ballots increases the likelihood of a multiparty system as well as the necessity of postelection coalition formation. It is rare indeed that causal relationships in political science theory elevate to law-like status, but in this case, “Duverger’s Law” has achieved considerable staying power. The logic guiding Duverger’s assertions depends on what are conventionally deemed mechanical effects and psychological effects. The mechanical effects highlight the underrepresentation of third (and fourth, and fifth, etc.) parties, which is likely to occur over time in a single-seat legislative district requiring an outright plurality or majority vote. Given the mechanical impediments to minor party success, voters who support minor parties then have psychological incentives not to “waste” their votes and may often cast ballots against their preferred candidate in a strategic effort to exercise some influence over the most likely winner in the two-party competition. Such claims have spawned much subsequent work, and not a little dissent. Sartori (1968) extended Duverger’s assertion of a link between proportionality and party system size, specifying that district magnitude (i.e., the number of seats in a district) is the single best predictor of the effective number of political parties in a district. Riker (1982) challenged Duverger’s hypothesis about PR and multipartism by contending that, if true, we should see a recurring increase in the number of parties over time rather than party system stability or modest decreases in the effective number of parties (as most frequently occurs in practice). Debate over the relationship between choice of electoral system and party system size is important, given the propensity to view two-party majoritarian countries as more stable than those with polarized multipartism.

If electoral rules biased in favor of two-party systems are theorized to bring gains in terms of system stability, then those rules favoring proportionality figure prominently in political science theories that attempt to explain citizen engagement, voter turnout, and representativeness of legislatures. According to Lijphart (1994, 1999), majoritarian and plurality electoral systems dilute citizen enthusiasm and voter turnout because so many supporters of minor parties conclude that casting their ballots will have little to no impact on electoral outcomes, government formation, or policy choices. Conversely, proportional systems with low thresholds for representation and large district magnitudes should increase the chances that smaller parties from across the ideological spectrum will be able to secure voice and seats in the legislature. With that greater likelihood of electoral success for minor and even fringe parties, voter efficacy and incentives to cast ballots should be increased. Voter turnout is “an excellent indicator of democratic quality” (Lijphart, 1999, p. 284), and PR systems are theorized to be superior to their majoritarian counterparts in generating democratic gains in this area. As part of an overall inclusive and consensual approach to democratic governance, proportional electoral systems should also improve citizen satisfaction with the political system, ceteris paribus.

A third major area of theoretical work on comparative electoral systems has evolved around the presumed correspondence between voting outcomes and public policy. If democracies are to be responsive to the preferences of the public, then periodic voting should work to translate the “will of the electorate” into identifiable policy choices. Scholarship in this area builds on the majoritarian– proportional dichotomy to examine citizen control over— and influence on—government policy making. Powell (2000) explores elections as “instruments of democracy” and distinguishes a proportional vision of “citizen influence” from a majoritarian vision of “control.” He contends that “proportional influence designs enjoy a surprising advantage” (p. 18) over the majoritarian alternative because they encourage broad cross-party bargaining to form a government and to pass legislation. Such bargaining should produce governments that include the median legislator, who is, in turn, close to the median voter. The median voter is located at the middle of a political system along most issue dimensions, such that one half of the electorate is positioned to the political left and the other half is positioned to the political right. The median legislator is likewise the elected representative located such that half of the other legislators are to the left and the other half are to the right, politically. Electoral systems that produce governments proximate to the median voter should, therefore, be more responsive to policy preferences. Proportional electoral systems should also give greater policy influence to opposition parties, making for a more inclusive process of policy making.

Theories underpinning our understanding of electoral rules and their consequences can have extremely important practical applications. While much effort is devoted to understanding how and why established democracies tinker with their electoral systems to enact reforms or alter a range of political outcomes, even greater attention has been directed in recent decades to the role of elections in facilitating regime change. Indeed, one of the growth areas in political science literature addresses the prospects for successful electoral engineering. Given that the last decades of the 20th century witnessed transitions from communism, apartheid, and other forms of autocratic rule, alternative theories about the prospects for implanting democracy through institutional engineering have become increasingly salient. Likewise, nascent post-authoritarian systems in early 21st-century hot spots such as Iraq and Afghanistan have emerged as testing grounds for the discipline’s theoretical assertions. Norris (2004) identifies two theoretical traditions—rational choice institutionalism and cultural modernization—that purport to explain the possibilities for electoral engineering on human behavior. In the rational choice institutionalism approach, political parties adopt discernibly different strategies based on the nature of electoral thresholds and ballot structures. Preference-maximizing citizens likewise should be expected to respond differently to alternative electoral rules. If correct, this logic would predict that rule-based incentives will shape consistent patterns of behavior; therefore, changing those incentives through electoral engineering “should have the capacity to generate important consequences for political representation and for voting behavior” (Norris, 2004, p. 15). By contrast, the cultural modernization approach suggests that deep-rooted cultural habits arising from processes of social modernization place real limits on the potential of formal rules to alter behavior in systematically meaningful ways. This culturalist argument is often employed to explain why wholesale introduction of electoral rules into culturally divided, post-conflict settings so frequently fails to produce short-term transformations of individual behavior.

Political scientists have endeavored to assemble an abundance of empirical evidence in support of their theoretical claims. Perhaps nowhere has greater effort been extended than in tests of propositions about the linkages among electoral laws, party systems, and coalitional incentives. Countering an alternative hypothesis that underlying societal cleavages are the primary agents determining size and polarization of party systems, a literature has evolved (cf. Cox, 1997; Lijphart, 1994; Rae, 1967; Riker, 1982; Sartori, 1968; Taagepera & Shugart, 1989) to contend that electoral laws have their own independent effects. Duverger’s notions about first-past-the-post, single-ballot elections tending to produce two-party majoritarian systems find extensive application in the United States, as well as the United Kingdom. In elections for the U.K. House of Commons and the U.S. Congress, the evidence seems to suggest a compelling link between electoral rules and strong, stable, two-party government. Electoral structures in the United States, for example, help explain the consistent failure of third parties to mount successful campaigns. This winner-take-all system has, though, placed such significant importance on the drawing of district boundaries that the pernicious practice of gerrymandering—consciously redrawing the lines to ensure a majority for one party—emerged as part of American politics. Although smaller parties have been able to win parliamentary seats in the United Kingdom, their ultimate representation in the House of Commons is highly disproportionate to their overall support in the electorate, and they have little chance at becoming the party of government or forcing a coalition. To illustrate, the perennial third-party Liberal Democrats won 22.1% of the vote in Britain’s 2005 general election but secured only 9.6% of the 646 seats in the House of Commons. Tony Blair’s Labour Party, having won only 35.3% of the votes nationwide, nevertheless captured 55.2% of the seats in parliament and 100% of the cabinet positions in government.

Single-member-district plurality systems normally provide rapid certainty after an election about who will govern and who will constitute the opposition. However, systems that introduce even a modicum of proportionality likewise introduce an element of uncertainty into the government formation process. Proportionality (especially when combined with low thresholds in multimember districts) does increase the number of effective parties in the political system. When no single political party secures an outright legislative majority, the postelection period becomes one marked by formal negotiations as well as backroom deals between parties jockeying to join a governing coalition. The case of Belgium is illustrative. There a proportional representation system with compulsory voting and a 5% threshold for representation in the federal Chamber of Representatives produced enough support to grant parliamentary seats to 11 parties in the June 10, 2007, general election. The largest among those, the Christian Democratic and Flemish Party, claimed only 18% of the 150 seats in parliament and could therefore not form a government by itself. Protracted negotiations commenced after the election, and 196 days later, the best the Belgian parties could do was constitute an interim caretaker government. That interim government lurched along, with further negotiations taking another 79 days before the parties could agree on a full-fledged new government. That government, in turn, failed to finish out the year. Although electoral rules biased in favor of majoritarianism typically yield governments that combine certainty with disproportional representation, those rules favoring multiparty outcomes tend to better reflect the dispersion of political preferences throughout the country but may also add considerable uncertainty to the government formation process.

Evidence also exists on the relationship between electoral systems and the production of such democratic goods as high voter turnout and citizen satisfaction. Where the electoral rules reduce the costs (e.g., time and effort) to citizens of registering and voting, we should find greater turnout. Similarly, where party choices available to voters are more extensive we should expect to see elevated turnout. Finally, voter efficacy—the belief that casting a ballot can actually impact the government formed and the ultimate policy direction taken—should be directly related to turnout at elections. According to Norris (2004), “Institutional rules do indeed matter: voting participation is maximized in elections using PR, with small electoral districts, regular but relatively infrequent national contests, and competitive party systems, and in presidential contests” (pp. 257–258). There is also evidence to support theoretical contentions that the type of electoral system can impact the opportunities for women and minorities seeking to earn a legislative seat or executive office. Among established democracies, the countries that consistently sit atop comparative rankings of the proportion of women winning seats in national parliaments are Sweden, Iceland, Finland, and the Netherlands. Each country employs some form of proportional electoral rules with low thresholds, and in each it is routine for women to constitute more than 40% of national parliamentary representation. Findings such as this, it should be noted, must also take regional political culture and other potentially intervening factors into consideration.

In his study of democratic performance in 36 countries from 1945 to 1996, Lijphart establishes empirically that electoral systems favoring consensus-oriented governance yield gains in citizen satisfaction. When the rules of the electoral process encourage multipartism and coalition building, the policy preferences of the median voter have a greater chance to be represented in the government of the day. Lijphart’s data show that the distance between governments and median voters is highest in majoritarian systems (with the United Kingdom representing the high end of the scale) and lowest in more proportional systems (with Ireland and its single transferable vote system producing the narrowest gap). Because in PR systems electoral “losers” often have a chance to join postelection coalitions—and due to the frequent proportional representation of opposition parties on legislative committees— Lijphart is able to find a statistically significant difference between citizen satisfaction in countries with alternative electoral systems. Lijphart’s study corroborates earlier work by Klingemann (1999), who found that Danes and Norwegians—each with highly proportional systems— scored the highest levels of democratic satisfaction.

Given the volume of empirical applications of existing political science theoretical work on elections, it is not surprising that there is a foundation of cases demonstrating how changes in electoral rules actually impact voter behavior and system characteristics. Indeed, the lessons of major 20th-century electoral reforms in three countries— France, Japan, and New Zealand—are instructive. The French case illustrates how constitutional architects can try to contain what are perceived to be the excesses of proportional representation. Those designing the 1958 Fifth Republic sought to use electoral rules to avoid reproducing the fleeting and weak multiparty coalition governments that had plagued the Fourth Republic from 1946 to 1958 and brought the system to the brink of collapse. The new two-round, single-member district system established in 1958 encouraged broad political party competition in a first round and awarded National Assembly seats to all candidates winning an outright majority. Absent a majority, all candidates receiving at least 12.5% of first-round votes could then contest in the runoff election, in which a plurality would suffice for victory. In practice, this runoff mechanism encourages the weakest candidates to voluntarily stand down in favor of a better positioned candidate closest to them on the left–right ideological spectrum and to have their supporters cast their second-round ballots for that person. This system has effectively preserved France’s multiparty system while simultaneously creating a stable two-bloc system of parties on the moderate left and right. The runoff system often means that parties with meaningful support nationwide may still fail to secure national legislative seats, as has been the case with the far-right National Front party. Indeed, when the French tinkered with their electoral laws in the 1980s, it became apparent how decisive the rules can be for representation. In 1986, the Socialist government of President François Mitterrand opted to change from the two-round system to a single-round proportional one in hopes of dividing the right wing opposition parties. As a result, the National Front’s 9.6% of the vote earned it 35 of the 577 national legislative seats. When party strategy changed and France reverted to the two-round system for the 1988 parliamentary election, the National Front’s 9.7% of the first-round vote translated into only one seat!

In Japan, major reforms occurred in 1994, when the old system of single nontransferable votes (allowing one choice per voter in elections for three to five district representatives) was scrapped and replaced by a mixed-member system. The new Japanese system for electing the House of Representatives combines first-past-the-post single-member districts (for 300 seats) with PR party-list seats (200) in an “attempt to craft a competitive two-party, issue-oriented politics and a cleaner, more efficient government” (Norris, 2004, p. 5). Whereas Japanese politics prior to the reform consisted mainly of one dominant party (Liberal Democrats) regularly overwhelming a handful of opposition, the new hybrid of majoritarian and proportional approaches (most analogous to the system in Russia) aims to create a polity with alternating parties in power. In New Zealand, at roughly the same time, reforms to replace the long-standing first-past-the-post system came to fruition. There, a mixed-member proportional system now allows 70 of the 120 national parliamentary seats to be elected directly in single-member districts, with the remainder coming from party lists in a style similar to Germany’s. The addition of proportionality to New Zealand’s electoral system—endorsed by a majority of citizens in a binding 1993 referendum—has had a quick and dramatic impact. Whereas the average number of political parties gaining seats in New Zealand’s national parliament was just two during the 1946-to-1993 period, in the five elections since introducing the mixed-member system, an average of seven parties has secured representation. Electoral engineering, at least in this case, seems to have achieved the end envisioned for it.

Perhaps nowhere is political science research into comparative electoral systems more salient than in countries attempting to transition away from authoritarianism. The cross-national lessons available to architects of new systems are always imperfect, as transporting a model from one country to another without sensitivity to local conditions and histories is a formula for failure. However, such comparative learning does take place, and most new electoral systems today are adaptations and amalgams of those found elsewhere. When elections were held in December 2005 to constitute a post-Saddam Iraqi Council of Representatives, a proportional party-list system determined 230 of the total 275 seats in 18 multimember districts (governorates). An additional 45 compensatory seats were then allocated to political entities that did not win any seats outright in the governorates but that did clear a minimum national threshold. Also worthy of note is that Iraq’s electoral law requires at least 25% of the members of the parliament to be women. In Afghanistan, post-Taliban elections have struggled to secure domestic and international legitimacy. The 2005 elections for Afghanistan’s lower house of parliament employed the single nontransferable vote method in 34 multimember constituencies. Candidates, however, ran independently because parties and lists were not recognized by the governing law. As in Iraq, the Afghan system reserved a number of seats (at least 68 of the total 249) for women. At the executive level, the Afghan president is elected by absolute majority in a two-round system similar to that employed in France.

The choice of election system can potentially impact the quality and kind of policy pursued by an incumbent government. If elections are the essential ingredient in representative democracy, then presumably there should be some apparent connection between the will of the people as expressed through elections and the policies they receive from the subsequently invested government. If citizens are engaging in issue voting, as some research has consistently found, then it is important to gauge whether the governments they get are actually responsive to those issues. If our fundamental expectations about democracy require a close connection between elections and policy outcomes, then the reality may sometimes disappoint (Ginsberg & Stone, 1996). As Downs (1957) contended, political parties adopt policies in order to win elections rather than win elections in order to adopt policies. The achievement of public policy goals may actually be instrumental to the more power-seeking ambitions of parties and politicians.

Political scientists therefore examine the ways in which different electoral systems hold officials accountable for their fidelity to campaign promises once in office. Indeed, elections provide a kind of ex post accountability for policy pledges. The more a particular model of election creates the perception among elected officials that those they claim to represent will oust them for poor past performance, the stronger the democratic accountability linkage is said to be. Although several scholars (e.g., Lijphart, 1999; Powell, 2000) demonstrate that citizen satisfaction and the correspondence between median voters and the policy positions represented in a legislature are enhanced by consensual, proportional representation, there is also reason to find that majoritarian systems provide the kind of clarity that voters need to hold leaders accountable for policy choices. In a majoritarian, winner-take-all system, if a party campaigns on the basis of very clear policy pledges, wins the election, and then proceeds to depart dramatically from its public promises (what political scientists call engaging in moral hazard), the voters should be able to easily identify this lack of fidelity and then “throw the rascals out” at the next electoral opportunity. By contrast, in electoral systems characterized by proportional representation, the likelihood of multiparty coalition governments forming after protracted negotiations is great. In such cases, the translation of electoral verdicts into governmental policy becomes significantly more indirect. Moreover, the distribution of policy portfolios across multiple parties blurs the lines of accountability and increases the difficulties for voters who wish to reward or punish the incumbents. For example, the citizen asked to evaluate with one vote the performance of a three-party coalition government may find it hard to express support for that government’s fiscal policy (headed by a Conservative Party finance minister) while rejecting its policies on education (headed by a Christian Democratic Party education minister), as well as those on immigration (headed by a Nationalist Party interior minister).

If elections are central to the functioning of democratic political systems, then another set of policy implications can be found in the promotion of democratization through elections and electoral reform. The foreign policies of many established democracies, as well as those of intergovernmental organizations and donor agencies, are intimately tied to this kind of promotion. The conduct of free and fair elections is frequently the litmus test for legitimacy in the eyes of the democratic international community, and everything from diplomatic recognition to commercial relations can hinge on the successful holding of competitive elections. As such, governmental entities such as the United Nations or the European Union will regularly send election monitoring missions to observe voter registration and the casting of ballots to gauge openness, extent of fraud, and incidents of intimidation. Nongovernmental organizations, such as the Carter Center, have also played this monitoring role in Africa, Latin America, and Asia. International financial institutions, such as the World Bank, also incorporate elections into decisions about granting development assistance funds to countries in need. This process of political conditionality is the stipulation of the conduct of democratic elections as a necessary occurrence prior to the allocation of foreign aid. Such conditionality has been part of the Structural Adjustment Programs implemented by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund in exchange for lower interest loans to developing countries. Critics of these policies contend that tethering development assistance to political reforms is tantamount to threats that will lead to the rapid importation of electoral mechanisms that ultimately fail to take root.

As democracy expands (and sometimes contracts) across the globe, research on elections likewise adapts. Political scientists continue to focus on formal rules and designs; on individual-level attitudinal and behavioral responses to those formal mechanisms; and on the connections among elections, party systems, and policy outcomes. One of the particular growth areas for future research in the area will be that addressing referenda and other forms of direct democracy. Referenda can take many different forms, with some being ad hoc and others constituting routine and regular procedures. They are advocated on the logic that circumventing the normal representative institutions in favor of direct votes by the entire electorate will encourage more citizens to become better informed and more involved in the democratic decision-making process. Singling out a policy choice for a decision by the people should, moreover, grant clarity to the direction desired by citizens; in contrast, the normal process of bundling multiple policy choices within legislative bills makes it hard to achieve such clarity. Finally, it is presumed that decisions arrived at through referendum elections will enjoy much greater legitimacy than those achieved through competition or cooperation of the political elite. With greater legitimacy, we should expect, in turn, the greater likelihood that those policies are successfully implemented. Referenda, plebiscites, and citizens’ initiatives take place in many countries: Switzerland uses the people’s initiative with relative frequency (more than 400 national referenda since 1945); French and Dutch voters were asked in their respective 2005 national referenda whether they supported a proposed European Union Constitution; and voters in East Timor chose to part from Indonesia in a 1999 referendum. Although the United States does not hold national referenda, some states and many localities do hold frequent initiatives and ballot propositions (for example, California’s 1978 Proposition 13 on property taxes and its 2008 Proposition 8 on same-sex marriage).

Future research should build on the increasing relevance of referenda and initiatives to explore the impact of question wording and ballot structure on voting outcomes. Assumptions about referenda being decided by informed and engaged citizens need to be tested thoroughly, across time and across countries. If empirical support does not emerge to substantiate that there are informational gains associated with referenda to a greater extent than in regular elections, then some normative red flags need to be raised regarding the utility of this form of democratic decision making. Fodder for further research comes with the varying turnout requirements that countries impose for the verdicts of direct democracy votes to be implemented: Why do different countries place the turnout threshold at different levels, and do high thresholds unfairly violate majorities that fail to reach them? Do voters behave differently when referendum elections are merely advisory rather than binding on the government? Most important, is there any empirical reason to expect that direct democracy elections are supplanting conventional political elections in any meaningful way? These trends and prospects clearly deserve the attention of 21st-century political scientists.

The rules governing and guiding voting are central to the study of contemporary politics. Decades of comparing electoral systems have produced important findings about the impact of alternative majoritarian and proportional systems and the many hybrid models in between. Duverger’s early assertions about the influence of ballot and district type on the size and character of political party systems have risen to the status of “law” in the discipline and spawned subsequent and more sophisticated theorizing. A considerable body of evidence now exists to help explain how the choice of electoral system can influence the quality of a country’s democracy. Introducing or reforming electoral rules can alter citizen participation and satisfaction, can enhance or diminish the congruence between voter preferences and public policy outputs, and can have profound consequences for system stability. Electoral engineering as such is one of the clearest issue areas in which political science research speaks directly to decision makers. Indeed, given that for centuries revolutions have been fought and blood spilt for the right to live in a democracy, it is imperative to understand how elections can support or undermine transitions from authoritarian rule. Some of the most tenuous polities around the globe struggle with legitimacy and leadership transitions, and designing an appropriate electoral system shapes—if not determines—those countries’ futures. Theories and data assembled for study of the United States, western Europe, and other cases of consolidated democracy offer much to the electoral engineer, policymaker, and student observer; they cannot, however, be casually transported across the globe to nascent democracies without due consideration of the opportunities and constraints defined by a country’s individual context.


  • Amorim Neto, O., & Cox, G. (1997). Electoral institutions, cleavage structures, and the number of parties. American Journal of Political Science, 41(1), 149-174.
  • Amy, D. (2000). Behind the ballot box: A citizen’s guide to electoral systems. Westport, CT: Praeger.
  • Anderson, C., & Guillory, C. (1997). Political institutions and satisfaction with democracy. American Political Science Review, 91(1), 66-81.
  • Bogdanor, V. (1984). What is proportional representation? Oxford, UK: Martin Robertson.
  • Bogdanor, V., & Butler, D. (Eds.). (1983). Democracy and elections. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Cox, G. (1997). Making votes count: Strategic coordination in the world’s electoral systems. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Crewe, I., & Denver, D. (1985). Electoral change in Western democracies: Patterns and sources of electoral volatility. New York: St. Martin’s Press.
  • Dahl, R. (1971). Polyarchy: Participation and opposition. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Dalton, R., Flanagan, S., & Beck, P. (Eds.). (1984). Electoral change in advanced industrial democracies: Realignment or dealignment? Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
  • Downs, A. (1957). An economic theory of democracy. New York: Harper & Row.
  • Duverger, M. (1954). Political parties: Their organization and activity in the modern state. London: Methuen.
  • Farrell, D. (1997). Comparing electoral systems. London: Prentice Hall/Harvester Wheatsheaf.
  • Farrell, D. (2001). Electoral systems: A comparative introduction. New York: Palgrave.
  • Ginsberg, B., & Stone, A. (Eds.). (1996). Do elections matter? Armonk, NY: M. E. Sharpe.
  • Grofman, B., & Lijphart, A. (Eds.). (1986). Electoral laws and their political consequences. New York: Agathon Press.
  • Huntington, S. (1993). The third wave: Democratization in the late twentieth century. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press.
  • Katz, R. (1980). A theory of parties and electoral systems. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.
  • Klingemann, H. D. (1999). Mapping political support in the 1990s: A global analysis. In P. Norris (Ed.), Critical citizens: Global support for democratic government (pp. 31-56). Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.
  • Lijphart, A. (1994). Electoral systems and party systems: A study of twenty seven democracies, 1945-1990. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Lijphart, A. (1999). Patterns of democracy: Government forms and performance in thirty six countries. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
  • Lijphart, A., & Grofman, B. (Eds.). (1984). Choosing an electoral system: Issues and alternatives. New York: Praeger.
  • Norris, P. (2004). Electoral engineering: Voting rules and political behavior. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Powell, G. (2000). Elections as instruments of democracy: Majoritarian and proportional visions. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
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  • Nov. 18 election: Louisiana voters pass 3 of 4 constitutional amendments. Here’s what it means

Posted: November 19, 2023 | Last updated: November 19, 2023

BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — Voters OK’d three new constitutional amendments on Saturday, Nov. 18 in the general election. Four were on the ballot.

The  Public Affairs Research and Council of Louisiana  shared a helpful guide breaking down what a vote for and against each proposed amendment would do.

Only a change to the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund was declined.

What do the voters’ decisions on the amendments mean?

Passed – amendment no. 1: deadlines to veto bills and rules for veto sessions.

Approving this, per PAR’s guide, lets lawmakers try to override a governor’s bill rejections without calling a separate veto session if they are already in a legislative session and add further details about the deadlines for a governor to veto bills.

The amendment had 61% support.

Passed – Amendment No. 2: Repeal of inactive special funds in the constitution

Per PAR’s guide, approving this removes six inactive funds with zero or near-zero balances from the Louisiana Constitution. According to the guide, repealing inactive funds wouldn’t change anything for the state financially, but it would clean up the cluttered Louisiana Constitution.

The amendment had 55% support.

Passed – Amendment No. 3: Property tax exemptions for first responders

Per PAR’s guide, this allows a parish governing authority to give an extra property tax exemption to police, firefighters and certain other first responders who own homes and live in the parish.

The amendment had 53% support.

Failed – Amendment No. 4: Rule changes for the Revenue Stabilization Trust Fund

Per PAR’s guide, a vote against would maintain broad rules for the emergency use of a seven-year-old state trust fund that collects dollars from corporate tax collections and gas production in Louisiana.

An argument against this, according to the guide, was that Louisiana locks up too much money in constitutionally protected accounts that limit lawmakers’ ability to respond to the state’s changing needs and circumstances.

The amendment had 44% support.

Other statewide races

Across Louisiana, voters cast ballots in statewide races. They elected Liz Murrill as attorney general, Nancy Landry as secretary of state and John Fleming as treasurer. 

In the Oct. 14 election, all four constitutional amendments on the ballot were approved.

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Nov. 18 election: Louisiana voters pass 3 of 4 constitutional amendments. Here’s what it means

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Louisiana Voting and Election Information

  • Introduction
  • Voter Information
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Government Publications and Patents & Trademarks Librarian

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Overview of Louisiana's Election System

Open Primary and General Elections

Louisiana conducts local and state elections on Saturdays using what is referred to as an open primary system, where any qualified elector may qualify as a candidate, regardless of party, and run for office and all eligible voters may cast a vote in the election, regardless of party affiliation. Some call this system a jungle primary because all candidates for an office run together in one election and the majority vote wins. A candidate must win at least 50 percent of the vote in order to win the election.

If there is no  majority vote  winner in the primary election then the top two candidates go to a run-off election called a general election. This type of system is used in Louisiana for all offices state, parish, municipal and congressional, but it is not used for the  presidential preference primary .

Congressional Elections

Louisiana elects two United States Senators for the entire state for six-year staggered terms and six United States representatives every two years from  congressional districts   drawn by the legislature.

Representatives and senators are elected at the federal November general election every even year on the first Tuesday following the first Monday and take office at noon on Jan. 3 following the election.

Secretary of State Website

The Louisiana Secretary of State has an official website where residents can access a wealth of election-related information, including polling locations, sample ballots, and more. Click the image below and select the "Election & Voting" tab to learn more about election and voting resources.

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"GeauxVote Mobile" is an app provided by the Louisiana Secretary of State's office. With this app, residents can locate where to vote, discover voting dates and times, view sample ballots, and see election results. Additional information provided by the app includes voter registration information and voter district information.  Geaux Vote is available for download on the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store .

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Find Your Polling Location

Voting is a fundamental right in the United States. Knowing where to vote ensures you can exercise this right without any inconvenience. Click the image below to find your voting location and other specific ballot information.

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Supporters of Sergio Massa hold posters of their candidate in front of an image of Milei in Ezeiza, Buenos Aires province.

Argentina holds breath as far-right Milei seizes narrow runoff advantage

Populist provocateur appears slight favorite over Peronist Sergio Massa as 35m Argentinians vote to choose new president

  • Who is presidential frontrunner Javier Milei?

Argentina is teetering on the brink of an unpredictable new political era this weekend with an erratic far-right populist known as “El Loco” (the Madman) the slight favourite to become president of South America’s second-largest economy in Sunday’s election.

As polls opened on Sunday morning against a backdrop of soaring inflation and widespread poverty, analysts believed Javier Milei , a TV celebrity turned congressman, held a slender advantage over his rival, the finance minister, Sergio Massa, but said the result was too close to call.

Massa, a centrist member of Alberto Fernández’s incumbent Peronist administration, unexpectedly won last month’s first round , with 9.8m votes to Milei’s 8m. But since then Milei – a climate-denying provocateur often compared to the far-right populists Donald Trump and Jair Bolsonaro – has been endorsed by several influential conservatives, including former president Mauricio Macri and the third-place candidate, Patricia Bullrich, who had previously condemned Milei’s “bad and dangerous” proposals .

Milei has dialled down his inflammatory rhetoric in the weeks since October’s vote, hoping to seduce voters put off by his radical ideas, which include closing more than a dozen ministries, cutting ties with Argentina’s two biggest trade partners, Brazil and China, and condemning the pope as “a lefty son of a bitch”.

“This is the most important election in the last 100 years,” Milei declared this week, urging voters to evict the “delinquent” Peronist politicians who have governed Argentina for 16 of the last 20 years “and have ruined our lives”.

He said: “Let hope overcome fear. The hope of a better country exists.”

Massa has spent recent weeks battling to focus voters’ minds on Milei’s volatile character, rather than the economic failures of his government, under which four in 10 Argentinians found themselves in poverty and inflation soared to more than 140%.

“Milei’s personality gives Massa a path to the presidency,” said Juan Cruz Díaz, the managing director of Buenos Aires consulting firm Cefeidas Group.

However, experts say concerns over Milei’s mindset may be insufficient to save Massa’s campaign, given Argentina’s economic woes. “This is a failed government with a record level of inflation and he is the minister for the economy,” said Federico Finchelstein, an Argentinian historian who studies the new wave of rightwing populists leaders, including Trump, Bolsonaro and Milei. “So [people think]: ‘Between a terrible thing and a crazy guy, let’s go for crazy, because perhaps it’s better than a terrible thing.’”

Finchelstein, who works at New York’s New School for Social Research, doubted most voters were enamored of Milei’s far-right ideas or foul-mouthed style. “But you have two really bad candidates and the question in Argentina is: ‘Which is the lesser evil?’”

One Brazilian newspaper said many of the undecided voters who will decide the election saw their choice as being between Dracula and Frankenstein, with Mary Shelley’s mad scientist representing Milei.

Observers are divided on what a Milei presidency might look like. The wild-haired celebrity economist – who only entered politics after being elected to congress in 2021 – has vowed to abolish Argentina’s central bank, replace its currency with the dollar, and slash government expenditure by 14%. On the campaign trail he has brandished a chainsaw to symbolize his desire to eliminate spending and corruption. His vice-presidential running mate, Victoria Villarruel, has ties to members of Argentina’s murderous 1976-83 dictatorship and has controversially questioned the consensus over the number of people killed by that regime.

But Díaz doubted the hard-right libertarian – whose party, La Libertad Avanza (Freedom Advances), controls just 38 of 257 seats in the lower house and eight of 72 in the senate – would have the political “firepower” to push through his most radical plans if elected.

“Milei doesn’t have a single governor, Milei doesn’t have a single mayor, and his presence in congress is extremely limited. He will face fierce resistance from social movements. So I’m not sure how likely major reforms are in the first two years,” Díaz said, speculating that traditional politicians such as Macri might play a major role in his administration, forcing him to moderate.

Sergio Massa campaigns in Buenos Aires.

Ariel Goldstein, an Argentinian sociologist who has written books on Bolsonaro and Latin America’s authoritarian revival, said a Milei victory would boost fellow rightwing populists around the world. “Buenos Aires could become a new mecca for the global far right,” said Goldstein, predicting a Milei victory would also spark profound “social conflict” as protesters resisted his cuts.

That view was echoed on the eve of the election by more than 100 leading economists who warned a Milei presidency could cause economic “devastation” and social chaos.

Finchelstein said one of his greatest fears was Milei himself. “He is way more excessive and unstable than Bolsonaro and Trump. So it’s highly unpredictable what this person could do [in power],” he said.

“We are talking about a person who is prone to sudden changes of mood, who is highly unstable and that, according to some journalistic research, even has a dead dog as a political adviser. This sounds like a bad joke – but it’s not,” Finchelstein added.

Latin American leftist leaders have also voiced alarm in recent days, with Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro claiming Argentinian voters had a choice between “hope and barbarism” and Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva urging Argentina to elect a president “who likes democracy and respects institutions”.

Conservative figures, including the former Mexican presidents Felipe Calderón and Vicente Fox, Colombia’s Iván Duque, Chile’s Sebastián Piñera and the Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa backed Milei’s campaign as a way of “democratically eradicating” the “perverse economic policies” of Massa’s political movement. Vargas Llosa has a poor track record when it comes to supporting presidential hopefuls having previously championed defeated rightwing candidates including Brazil’s Bolsonaro, Chile’s José Antonio Kast and Peru’s Keiko Fujimori.

Milei’s allies reject his portrayal as an unbalanced powder keg, although they do not refute claims their leader takes counsel from his cloned mastiffs .

“They will say anything about us. They say we are Nazis … We laugh at it. Think whatever you want,” his close ally Lilia Lemoine said in a recent interview, dismissing the idea Milei was an extremist.

Lemoine, a cosplayer-turned-congresswoman-elect, said Milei had earned the nickname “El Loco” “because he was very passionate”. “That’s not bad. I mean, you have to be a little bit crazy to take the risk to go against all this corruption,” she said.

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Fiery right-wing populist Javier Milei wins Argentina’s presidency and promises ‘drastic’ changes

Voters in Argentina were heading to the polls Sunday in a presidential runoff election that will determine whether South America’s second-largest economy will take a rightward shift. (Nov. 19) (AP Video: Pablo Barrera, Cristian Kovadloff, Mauricio Cuevas)

Presidential candidate Javier Milei, right, celebrates with his sister Karina Milei during his victory speech after winning a presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

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Supporters of presidential candidate Javier Milei gather outside his campaign headquarter after Economy Minister Sergio Massa, candidate of the Peronist party, conceded defeat in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei waves during his victory speech after being elected president in a runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Javier Milei, presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition, embraces his sister Karina Milei after being elected president in a runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Supporters of Javier Milei celebrate his victory over Sergio Massa, the Economy Minister and candidate of the Peronist party, in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei speaks to supporters outside his campaign headquarters after winning the runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

A voter looks at electoral lists during a presidential runoff election between Javier Milei and Sergio Massa in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A supporter of presidential candidate Javier Milei holds a flag with his picture outside his headquarter during the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei boards his car after voting in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Economy Minister and presidential hopeful Sergio Massa, center back, posses with supporters after voting in the presidential runoff election in Tigre, outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei votes during the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

A voter looks at electoral lists during the presidential runoff election between Javier Milei and Sergio Massa in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

A passerby pushes baby stroller past police guarding the polling station where presidential candidate Javier Milei will vote in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Vice-presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Victoria Villarruel arrives to vote in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Relatives of people missing during the last military dictatorship hold a banner reading in Spanish “It was a genocide” at the arrival of the vice-presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition, Victoria Villarruel, to vote in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Economy Minister and presidential hopeful Sergio Massa speaks to journalists after voting in the presidential runoff election in Tigre, outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

Soldiers guard at a polling station during the presidential runoff election between Javier Milei and Sergio Massa on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Supporters of Economy Minister Sergio Massa, presidential candidate for the ruling Union for the Homeland coalition, play drums outside his election night campaign headquarter after polls closed in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Economy Minister and presidential hopeful Sergio Massa gestures before voting in the presidential runoff election in Tigre, outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

A supporter of the opposition presidential candidate Javier Milei holds a reproduction of a hundred dollar bill featuring the candidate’s face outside his campaign headquarters after the polls closed in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

Supporters of opposition presidential candidate Javier Milei celebrate outside his campaign headquarter after polls closed in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Rodrigo Abd)

A supporter of Argentina’s Economy Minister Sergio Massa holds his head after the presidential candidate of the ruling party conceded defeat to opposition candidate Javier Milei in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix

Supporters of the opposition presidential candidate Javier Milei celebrate after polls closed in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Supporters of Argentina’s Economy Minister Sergio Massa, presidential candidate of the Peronist party, embrace outside his campaign headquarter after he conceded defeat to opposition candidate Javier Milei in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Supporters of Javier Milei, candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition, celebrate his victory over Sergio Massa, the Economy Minister and candidate of the Peronist party, in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Gustavo Garello)

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei greets supporters outside his campaign headquarters after winning the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Supporters of presidential candidate Javier Milei celebrate outside his campaign headquarter his victory over Economy Minister Sergio Massa, candidate of the ruling Peronist party, in the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Matias Delacroix)

Javier Milei, presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition, right, celebrates with his sister Karina Milei after being elected president in a runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei speaks after his victory over Sergio Massa, Economy Minister and candidate of the ruling Peronist party, in a presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei waves during his victory speech after winning the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — Populist Javier Milei resoundingly won Argentina’s presidential election Sunday, swinging the country to the right following a fiercely polarized campaign in which he promised a dramatic shake-up to the state to deal with soaring inflation and rising poverty.

With 99.4% of votes tallied in the presidential runoff, Milei had 55.7% and Economy Minister Sergio Massa 44.3%, according to Argentina’s electoral authority. It is the highest percentage that a presidential candidate has received since the South American country’s return to democracy in 1983.

In the streets of Buenos Aires, drivers honked their horns and many took to the streets to celebrate in several neighborhoods. Outside Milei’s party headquarters, a hotel in downtown Buenos Aires, a full-on party kicked off with supporters singing, buying beers from vendors and setting off colored smoke bombs. They waved Argentine flags and the yellow Gadsden flag, emblazoned with the words “Don’t Tread On Me,” which Milei’s movement has adopted.

Inside, the self-described anarcho-capitalist who has been compared to former U.S. President Donald Trump, delivered his victory speech, saying the “reconstruction of Argentina begins today.”

Presidential candidate of the Liberty Advances coalition Javier Milei greets supporters outside his campaign headquarters after winning the presidential runoff election in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Sunday, Nov. 19, 2023. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

“Argentina’s situation is critical. The changes our country needs are drastic. There is no room for gradualism, no room for lukewarm measures,” Milei told supporters, who chanted “Liberty, liberty!” and “Let them all leave” in a reference to the country’s political class.

Massa of the ruling Peronist party had already conceded defeat, saying Argentines “chose another path.”

“Starting tomorrow ... guaranteeing the political, social and economic functions is the responsibility of the new president. I hope he does,” Massa said.

With a Milei victory, the country will take an abrupt shift rightward and a freshman lawmaker who got his start as a television talking head blasting what he called the “political caste” will assume the presidency.

Inflation has soared above 140% and poverty has worsened while Massa has held his post. Milei has said he would slash the size of the government, dollarize the economy and eliminate the Central Bank as a way to tackle galloping inflation that he blames on successive governments printing money indiscriminately in order to fund public spending. He also espouses several conservative social policies, including an opposition to sex education in schools and abortion, which Argentina’s Congress legalized in 2020.

“This is a triumph that is less due to Milei and his peculiarities and particularities and more to the demand for change,” said Lucas Romero, the head of Synopsis, a local political consulting firm. “What is being expressed at the polls is the weariness, the fatigue, the protest vote of the majority of Argentines.”

Massa’s campaign cautioned Argentines that his libertarian opponent’s plan to eliminate key ministries and otherwise sharply curtail the state would threaten public services, including health and education, and welfare programs many rely on. Massa also drew attention to his opponent’s often aggressive rhetoric and openly questioned his mental acuity; ahead of the first round, Milei sometimes carried a revving chainsaw at rallies .

“There were lot of voters that weren’t convinced to vote Milei, who would vote null or blank. But come the day of the vote, they voted for Milei because they’re all pissed off,” Andrei Roman, CEO of Brazil-based pollster Atlas Intel, said by phone. “Everyone talked about the fear of Milei winning. I think this was a fear of Massa winning and economy continuing the way it is, inflation and all that.”

Milei accused Massa and his allies of running a “campaign of fear” and he walked back some of his most controversial proposals, such as loosening gun control. In his final campaign ad, Milei looks at the camera and assures voters he has no plans to privatize education or health care.

Milei’s screeds resonated widely with Argentines angered by their struggle to make ends meet, particularly young men.

“Incredibly happy, ecstatic, it’s a global historical phenomenon!” Luca Rodríguez, a 20-year-old law student, said outside Milei’s headquarters after spraying a bottle of champagne into the air onto those around him, who squealed with glee. “I want to break free from this ridiculous elite that takes away all our rights, all the tax money that pressures us and doesn’t let us live in peace.”

Two Milei supporters in the raucous crowd were 32-year-old identical twins, both dressed in matching grey tank tops with Argentine flags draped over their shoulders.

“We want a change, we want everything to improve,” Amilcar Rollo said beside his brother, Gabriel. “It’s the hope for something new from someone who hasn’t been there and has different ideas. Otherwise, it’s just the same as always.”

Most pre-election polls, which have been notoriously wrong at every step of this year’s campaign, showed a statistical tie between the two candidates or Milei slightly ahead.

Underscoring the bitter division this campaign has brought to the fore, Milei received both jeers and cheers on Friday night at the legendary Colón Theater in Buenos Aires.

The acrimony was also evident Sunday when Milei’s running mate, Victoria Villaruel, went to vote and was met by protesters angry at her claims that the number of victims from Argentina’s bloody 1976-1983 military dictatorship is far below what human rights organizations have long claimed , among other controversial positions .

The vote took place amid Milei’s allegations of possible electoral fraud , reminiscent of those from Trump and former far-right Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro. Without providing evidence, Milei claimed that the first round of the presidential election was plagued by irregularities that affected the result. Experts say such irregularities cannot swing an election, and that his assertions were partly aimed at firing up his base and motivating his supporters to become monitors of voting stations. Many have expressed concerns they undermine democratic norms.

Both Bolsonaro and Trump congratulated Milei on social media.

“The whole world was watching! I am very proud of you,” Trump wrote on his platform, Truth Social. “You will turn your Country around and truly Make Argentina Great Again!”

And posting on X, formerly Twitter, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken also commended Milei.

“We look forward to continuing bilateral cooperation based on shared values and interests,” Blinken wrote.

This version has corrected that it’s the highest percentage a presidential candidate has received since 1983, not that the victory marked the widest margin in a presidential election.

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The best AI tools for writing a research paper

man studying in cafe on laptop

Research papers may be the most dreaded of academic assignments, even before you hit the Master’s or PhD level, never mind your post-grad career. Thankfully there are now a number of generative AI tools that can speed up research writing, and we’ve gathered some of the better ones into a handy list.

While you’ll see some familiar names on here, it’s worth reminding everyone that in an academic environment, AI can potentially be a minefield. Some uses of it are considered cheating or otherwise unethical, especially if you plagiarize content. When that worry is eliminated, you still need to doublecheck the style, grammar, facts, and/or sources of any AI output.


Grammarly for Chrome

Grammarly’s main purpose is of course correcting spelling, grammar, and punctuation. But it can also recommend changes to the tone or formality of your language, and most importantly for research papers, there’s a beta citation generator. That feature supports APA, MLA, and Chicago styles, so as a student at least, you should be covered.

Note that while there’s a free version of Grammarly, you’ll need to upgrade to a Premium plan to get things like full-sentence rewrites, formatting help, and plagiarism detection. The upgraded version can even help with English fluency if that’s a second language and you’re not used to cultural conventions. Premium further bumps up the number of AI prompts you can use from 100 per month to 1,000.


This tool focuses exclusively on paper discovery. On top of enabling manual searches and a personal library, though, it can also recommend related papers and authors, and update you on the latest material connected to your research. If you like, you can collaborate with others, or check out a visual map of a paper’s links.

The best part is that ResearchRabbit is entirely supported by donations, so if you’re a struggling grad student, there’s no need to pay for the convenience. Go ahead and save your cash for food, rent, and student loans.


Scholarcy promises to do the hard part with a lot of outside source material — summarize it so you get the gist. The tool is said to work with books and papers alike, and extract vital information such as findings, limitations, and data analyses. The result is a flashcard, but with links to sources, and the ability to choose what appears. If you need the tables from scientific papers, for instance, you can force Scholarcy to include them.

An extension for Google Chrome and Microsoft Edge supports open repositories like arXiv and biorXiv. In fact you can use this for free, though you’re limited to small- to medium-sized documents, and you’ll need to sign up for a subscription if you want to save summaries to your Scholarcy Library. A subscription also gets you sharing, annotation, and export options, as well as the ability to import from Dropbox, Google Drive, or custom RSS feeds.


While Scite might in some ways serve same purpose as ResearchRabbit — hunting down papers — it goes a lot further. You can ask it general knowledge questions and get answers with cited sources, or doublecheck the sources for claims you’ve read elsewhere, such as ChatGPT . When searching for material, you can apply numerous filters including authorship, institutional affiliation, or how many citations mention, support, or contrast a particular paper.

You can even check how often your own material is being cited, or get aggregate insights and notifications based on your collections. It’s serious stuff, and once your trial period expires, you’ll need to pay $144 per year or $20 per month unless you’re lucky enough to fall under a university or corporate plan.


If Scite can be considered a step up from ResearchRabbit, the same might be said about Trinka versus Grammarly. Trinka is specifically aimed at fixing academic and technical writing, including style, grammar, and jargon issues. It’s based on the APA and AMA style guides, and it always aims for a formal tone. 

There’s a host of additional features here, including paraphrasing, citation and plagiarism checking, and analysis to find an ideal journal to publish in. Plug-ins are available for Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Microsoft Word. A Safari plug-in is promised sometime in the future.

If all you want is small-scale help with grammar, paraphrasing, and plagiarism, there’s a free version of Trinka which supports Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. You’ll need to upgrade to a paid plan, however, if you want to lift usage caps and take advantage of Word integration.


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