Project title: What does political equality require with respect to voting in parliamentary or municipality elections?
This research project is about political equality and voting and has received 2.6 million Danish kroner (410000 US$) in funding from Aalborg University. The overarching research question that the project seeks to answer is that of what political equality requires with respect to voting in parliamentary or municipality elections. Does political equality, for example, require that 1) the publication of exit and opinion poll results is morally permissible and should be legally permissible, 2) voting should be compulsory as a matter of law and 3) voting should be private/anonymous. It is a central conjecture that the project will show that certain widely held beliefs about political equality, as related to conventional voting schemes, are false. The project consists of three sub-projects (SPs), and each sub-project focuses on one of the assertions in the set 1) – 3). Each SP seeks to answer the question of what political equality requires when it comes to the questions that assertions 1) - 3) respectively constitutes an answer to. Debates on assertions 1) – 3) are essential for a vibrant democratic society, and they are of significant interest to the general public.
The underlying theoretical assumption of the work within SP1-SP3 is the idea that every plausible political theory has the same ultimate value: namely that of equality. Every plausible political theory is, in other words, an "egalitarian" theory. This idea is false if "egalitarian" is interpreted narrowly so as to denote only theories which advocate an equal distribution of income and/or wealth. There is, however, a more abstract and fundamental idea of equality in political theory: this is the idea of treating people as equals. Each and every plausible political theory must, for example, deny that certain kinds of people do not matter as much as others and must deny that some people are not entitled to equal consideration from the government. At the heart of every plausible political theory is the view that each person matters equally. This is the normative view that underlies all the work in this research project. This means concretely that arguments for and against assertions 1) - 3) will be evaluated by looking at what implications they have in terms of treating people as equals.