Foot voting versus ballot box voting: why voting with your feet is crucial to political freedom

Abstract

Ballot box voting is the main mechanism of political choice in modern liberal democracies. It is also often thought of as the essence of political freedom. Traditional voting has significant virtues. But as a mechanism for exercising political freedom, ballot box voting has serious flaws. The average citizen has almost no chance of affecting the outcome of an electoral process. In part as a result, he or she also has strong incentives to make ill-informed and illogical decisions. “Voting with your feet” is a superior option on both fronts. It is thereby often a superior mechanism of political freedom.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    The relevance of some other “voice” mechanisms is discussed later in this article.

  2. 2.

    For a leading modern work in this vein, see Nozick (1974).

  3. 3.

    On the importance of zoning in determining housing availability and cost, see, for example, Tai-Hsieh and Moretti (2015). For an overview of the evidence, see Glaeser (2017).

  4. 4.

    See sources referenced in Somin (2016, 267 n. 127).

  5. 5.

    On the difficulties of determining whether and to what extent a “mandate” exists, see Grosssman et al. (2006).

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Correspondence to Ilya Somin.

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Somin, I. Foot voting versus ballot box voting: why voting with your feet is crucial to political freedom. Eur Polit Sci 18, 587–602 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1057/s41304-018-0195-2

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Keywords

  • Democracy
  • Political freedom
  • Political participation
  • Voting
  • Voting with your feet