Expressive Voting

When you vote in an election, what are you really doing? In this video, Professor Geoffrey Brennan challenges students to question standard assumptions about what voters are doing when they vote. He argues that voters don’t actually choose candidates, since a single vote almost never determines the outcome of an election. Each vote, by itself, is more like cheering for a sports team, which has important implications for the workings of democratic politics.

Additional Readings and Videos

Here are recommended readings and additional videos that could be added to a syllabus or lesson plan on this topic.

Books and Articles

Brennan, Geoffrey, and Loren Lomasky. Democracy and Decision: The Pure Theory of Electoral Preference. Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Brennan, Geoffrey, and Alan Hamlin. “Expressive Voting and Electoral Equilibrium”Public Choice Vol. 95, No. 1/2 (1998), pp. 149-175

Hamlin, Alan and Colin Jennings. “Expressive Voting.” The Oxford Handbook of Public Choice, Volume 1. Ed. Roger D. Congleton, Bernard N. Grofman, and Stefan Voigt. Oxford University Press, 2019.

Anomaly, Jonathan; Geoffrey Brennan, Michael C. Munger, and Geoffrey Sayre-McCord. “Chapter 11: Reasons to Vote.” Philosophy, Politics, and Economics: An Anthology