Critical Evaluation of Citizen Comprehension and Direct Democracy
This chapter explores individual vote choice and the role it plays in voter participation. It provides another methodological approach to the question of ballot measure participation by using an experiment to determine whether voters are able to vote their preferences when confronted with measures of different ballot language complexity and topics. When political comprehension is a significant indicator of participation, this indicates that citizens are able to rely on their political knowledge when they may not understand the question exactly. Experimental Methodology uses an experiment involving university students in a pretest/post-test design to evaluate ballot complexity influences on participation in simulated direct democracy elections. Participants experiment was conducted in seven different undergraduate classes, While there may be some external validity issues with using undergraduate students, much of experimental design has used undergraduate students as subjects. The ballot propositions appeared in the experiment as they did on the state ballots with a few minor changes.