This chapter focuses on voter participation, perhaps the most well-known anomaly for rational choice theory. The problem goes like this: in large electorates, the chance that any single voter will be pivotal is very small. Consequently, the cost of voting will outweigh the expected gains from turning out and few citizens will vote. This prediction is not consistent with some of the most easily observed facts about elections. The chapter introduces a basic model of electoral participation that focuses on voters’ turnout decisions under fixed candidate platforms. Contrary to the “paradox of turnout” raised by game-theoretic models of turnout, the model consistently generates realistically high levels of turnout. It also produces comparative statics, including those for voting cost, population size, and faction size, that are intuitive and empirically supported.
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