How Much Electoral Participation Does Democracy Require? The Case for Minimum Turnout Requirements in Candidate Elections


Elections are the linchpin of a representative democracy’s legitimacy and power. In the absence ofelectoral participation by a critical mass of the population, a society cannot meaningfully claim to be democratically governed.

Persistently low voter turnout decreases the quality and equality of political representation in the United States and jeopardizes the integrity of our system of government. Not only do turnout rates currently have no practical impact on electoral outcomes, but there is also no social expectation
that they should. This Comment proposes incentivizing electoral participation in candidate races through implementation of a minimum turnout requirement, which puts the onus on government officials to foster greater voter turnout. In doing so, this Comment offers a new framework for
assessing and improving the health of our democracy.

About the Author

Equal Justice Works Fellow with the ACLU Voting Rights Project and 2019 graduate of UCLA School of Law.