Abstract

While elections are, today, widely considered a fundamental feature of democracy, the argument of this two‐part article, published in the Common Knowledge symposium “Antipolitics,” is that elections are a problematic and even inappropriate way of choosing representatives. Part 1 focuses on factors that make elections ill suited for democracy. These include a variety of human traits studied intently by contemporary psychologists. Part 1 assesses many studies of this type. Discussed as well are the ignorance and inattention of voters, which can be rationally justified by the improbability of a single vote deciding the result of an election. Part 1 deals not only with the psychology of voters but also with the harm that winning an election does to the psyche of the victor and to bodies and offices that are composed of winners. The essay concludes that democracy would be better served by sortition — selection by lottery — than by elections when forming its representative bodies and selecting its leaders.

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