Why Deliberation and Voting Belong Together

Paper by Simone Chambers & Mark E. Warren: “The field of deliberative democracy now generally recognizes the co-dependence of deliberation and voting. The field tends to emphasize what deliberation accomplishes for vote-based decisions. In this paper, we reverse this now common view to ask: In what ways does voting benefit deliberation? We discuss seven ways voting can complement and sometimes enhance deliberation. First, voting furnishes deliberation with a feasible and fair closure mechanism. Second, the power to vote implies equal recognition and status, both morally and strategically, which is a condition of democratic deliberation. Third, voting politicizes deliberation by injecting the strategic features of politics into deliberation—effectively internalizing conflict into deliberative processes, without which they can become detached from their political environments. Fourth, anticipation of voting may induce authenticity by revealing preferences, as what one says will count. Fifth, voting preserves expressions of dissent, helping to push back against socially induced pressures for consensus. Sixth, voting defines the issues, such that deliberation is focused, and thus more likely to be effective. And, seventh, within contexts where votes are public—as in representative contexts, voting can induce accountability, particularly for one’s claims. We then use these points to discuss four general types of institutions—general elections, legislatures, minipublics, and minipublics embedded in referendum processes—that combine talking and voting, with the aim of identifying designs that do a better or worse job of capitalizing upon the strengths of each…(More)”.