Guest Speaker - Jason Maloy

Departmental Event

Start Date: Oct 23, 2019 - 12:00pm

Location: Room 2069 (Social Sciences Building)

Jason Maloy, Ph.D. 

University of Lousiana - Lafayette




Smarter Ballots: Electoral Realism and Reform

Competitive elections are the indispensable institutional vehicle of democracy, beloved of mainstream
opinion in democratic countries and radical opinion in non-democratic ones. Since new democracies
began emerging at the end of the Cold War, however, the weight of academic research suggests that
standard voting procedures and the outcomes they produce are weak and unreliable in empowering
ordinary citizens. Here I offer an original synthesis of these scholarly findings to articulate a new kind of
electoral realism: conventional, single-mark ballots simply are not designed to respect voter choice, and
they cannot be assumed to do so inadvertently. Political scientists’ studies of democratic elections
around the world are reinterpreted through the distinction between naturalism and constructivism in
elections research. Electoral realism points toward multi-mark types of ballot structure as the key to
resolving the “dilemma of disempowerment,” an under-appreciated dynamic that traps citizens
between the vote-splitting and “lesser evil” problems. Multi-mark ballot reforms may therefore be
necessary to shift power away from partisan and economic elites and back toward ordinary citizens –
combatting the dangers to democracy in our times by accentuating rather than diminishing “people

Jason Maloy (PhD, Harvard) Professor Maloy teaches courses
and conducts research on a wide range of topics related to
democratic institutions and constitutions, in both international
and domestic contexts. His on-going research and writing
projects involve election reform, political juries (a.k.a. citizen
assemblies), unicameral vs. multicameral legislatures, how to
conceptualize and measure democratic regimes in comparative
research, and how to change constitutions (both national-level
and US state-level ones).