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election law, deliberation, political philosophy


My paper deals with two subject areas - deliberative democracy theory and election law - that have had surprisingly little contact with another. My paper tries to remedy this lacuna by looking at how the two fields intersect and can contribute to the understanding of one another. In particular, I look in detail at a particularly prominent proposal by two political theorists, Bruce Ackerman and James Fishkin's Deliberation Day, and how the aims of that proposal might be frustrated by the present structure of American election law. I argue that because they fail to take into account certain structural features of how America conducts its election, Ackerman and Fishkin's plan may have the effect of reducing the amount of good political deliberation, rather than increasing it. My paper concludes by suggesting that instead of Ackerman and Fishkin's faith in bottom-up citizen deliberation, we might do better to introduce certain top-down structural changes in election law in order to make deliberation more democratic.