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Calculus of voting refers to any mathematical model which predicts voting behaviour by an electorate, including such features as participation rate. A calculus of voting represents an hypothesized decision-making process.
These models are used in political science in an attempt to capture the relative importance of various factors influencing an elector to vote (or not vote) in a particular way.
- R = pB − C + D
- R = the reward gained from voting in a given election (R, then, is a proxy for the probability that the voter will turn out)
- p = probability of vote “mattering”
- B = “utility” benefit of voting--differential benefit of one candidate winning over the other
- C = costs of voting (time/effort spent)
- D = citizen duty, goodwill feeling, psychological and civic benefit of voting (this term is not included in Downs's original model)
- Downs, Anthony. 1957. An Economic Theory of Democracy. New York: Harper & Row.
- Riker, William and Peter Ordeshook. 1968. “A Theory of the Calculus of Voting.” American Political Science Review 62(1): 25-42.
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