Voter Ignorance Is Not Necessarily a Problem

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11 Scopus citations


Ilya Somin's case for smaller government and “foot voting” rests on at least two questionable assumptions. The first is that voter ignorance is based on rational calculation. This assumption requires arbitrary stipulations about the degree of voter altruism and the low values voters assign to the victory of their candidates. The second is that voter ignorance betokens bad public policy. But there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. How can this be the case? One explanation is that individually ignorant voters are small pieces of a large system that divides intellectual labor through discussions among elites, opinion leaders, and ordinary citizens. This system may entitle voters to trust in the opinions of others, sparing them the need to be well informed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-269
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Review
Issue number3-4
StatePublished - Oct 2 2015


  • Ilya Somin
  • democracy
  • democratic theory
  • heuristics
  • information shortcuts
  • intellectual division of labor
  • limited government

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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