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Chapter: Which Procedure for Deciding Election Procedures?

Updated: Jun 22, 2021

Arash Abizadeh. "Which Procedure for Deciding Election Procedures?" In Should We Change How We Vote? Evaluating Canada's Electoral System. Ed. Andrew Potter, Daniel Weinstock, & Peter Loewen. Pp. 188-196. Montreal: McGill-Queen's University Press, 2017.


Abstract: One way to evaluate electoral rules is instrumental: we ask what effects they tend to produce. A second way is constitutive: we ask what kinds of values they embody, or whether the procedures they effect respect people's rights or moral status. A third way is genetic: we ask by what procedure the electoral rules were adopted. I shall argue that in judging the value or the legitimacy of electoral rules, we must consider not only (1) the values they serve instrumentally and (2) the values, rights, or statuses they embody or respect, but also (3) the procedure by which they were chosen. I argue, moreover, that the best way to choose electoral rules in representative governments is on an ongoing basis via a randomly selected citizen assembly whose decisions are binding independently of any appeal to referenda.

Image credit: William Hogarth, Humours of an Election: Scene 3, The Polling (1754-55)

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