Test Your Knowledge of Elections and Democracy



9 Questions

What is the main purpose of elections?

What is electoral reform?

What is the central issue in elections?

What are some of the ways the structure of an election can be changed to favour a specific faction or candidate?

What are sham elections?

What is the inegalitarian nature of elections?

What is sortition?

What is the difference between electing representatives and democracy?

What are some of the reasons why the electorate may be poorly informed about issues or candidates?


Overview of Elections

  • Elections are a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold public office.

  • Elections may fill offices in the legislature, sometimes in the executive and judiciary, and for regional and local government.

  • Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative democracy has operated since the 17th century.

  • The global use of elections as a tool for selecting representatives in modern representative democracies is in contrast with the practice in ancient Athens, where officeholders were chosen by lot.

  • Electoral reform describes the process of introducing fair electoral systems where they are not in place, or improving the fairness or effectiveness of existing systems.

  • The question of who may vote is a central issue in elections. The electorate does not generally include the entire population.

  • Electoral systems are the detailed constitutional arrangements and voting systems that convert the vote into a political decision.

  • When elections are called, politicians and their supporters attempt to influence policy by competing directly for the votes of constituents in what are called campaigns.

  • Pre-decided or fixed election dates have the advantage of fairness and predictability.

  • In many of the countries with weak rule of law, the most common reason why elections do not meet international standards of being "free and fair" is interference from the incumbent government.

  • The electorate may be poorly informed about issues or candidates due to lack of freedom of the press, lack of objectivity in the press due to state or corporate control, and/or lack of access to news and political media.

  • Gerrymandering, exclusion of opposition candidates from eligibility for office, needlessly high restrictions on who may be a candidate, like ballot access rules, and manipulating thresholds for electoral success are some of the ways the structure of an election can be changed to favour a specific faction or candidate.Elections: Tampering, Sham Elections, and Elections as Aristocratic

  • China and Russia were the most intense interveners in elections in 2018.

  • Tampering with elections can include falsifying voter instructions, ballot stuffing, voter suppression, and destruction of legitimately cast ballots, among others.

  • Sham elections are held purely for show without any significant political choice or impact on the results. They are common in dictatorial regimes to feign public legitimacy.

  • Ballots in sham elections may contain only one "yes" option, or security forces may persecute people who pick "no".

  • Sham elections can backfire against the party in power, as in the 1990 Myanmar general election.

  • Examples of sham elections include those in Iran, Fascist Italy, Nazi Germany, North Korea, and Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

  • Scholarly views suggest that elections in modern liberal democracies are aristocratic selection mechanisms that deny each citizen an equal chance of holding public office.

  • The inegalitarian nature of elections stems from unequal treatment of candidates by voters, the cognitive advantage conferred by salience, and the costs of disseminating information.

  • Evidence suggests that the concept of electing representatives was originally conceived to be different from democracy.

  • Prior to the 18th century, some societies in Western Europe used sortition as a means to select rulers, which allowed regular citizens to exercise power.

  • Elections began to be seen as a way for the masses to express popular consent repeatedly in the 18th century, resulting in the triumph of the electoral process until the present day.

  • Some scholars have proposed alternative models of democracy, many of which include a return to sortition-based selection mechanisms.


How much do you know about elections? Test your knowledge with our quiz on the overview of elections and tampering, sham elections, and elections as aristocratic selection mechanisms. From the history of elections to the intricacies of electoral systems, this quiz will challenge your understanding of the democratic process. Discover the different ways in which elections can be manipulated, and learn about alternative models of democracy. Perfect for anyone interested in politics or simply looking to expand their knowledge of the world around them.

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