Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The Clueless Voter

Magazine article The Wilson Quarterly

The Clueless Voter

Article excerpt

THE SOURCE: "Does Compulsory Voting Lead to More Informed and Engaged Citizens? An Experimental Test" by Peter John Loewen, Henry Milner, and Bruce M. Hicks, in Canadian Journal of Political Science, Sept. 2008.

IF VOTING WERE MANDATORY, would voters get smarter? Three Canadian political scientists conducted an experiment. They recruited a group of newly eligible voters for a study of "youth attitudes" and divided the sample randomly They promised about half of the student subjects $25 to take two exams on civic affairs; the rest were offered the same $25 to take the tests and vote in the upcoming provincial election. Would the students required to vote become more knowledgeable than the others?

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The participants in the study were not necessarily Canada's future Nobel laureates. They were picked from pre-university classes and courses with minimal admission requirements. Peter John Loewen, Henry Milner, and Bruce M. Hicks of the University of Montreal administered tests one month before the election and again after. …

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