The overall aim of Work Package 1 is to investigate whether or not there is a meaning for ‘voting’ for ordinary citizens and if so, what is their significance of voting. Attention is given both to the importance of voting and the content of citizens’ definitions. Work Package 1 has three main objectives: (1) to collect initial, preliminary evidence on voting meanings as articulated by citizens themselves useful to inform data collection in Work Packages 2-4; (2) to analyse the collected evidence to find common voting definitions and patterns useful for initial theory building; and (3) to aid the set-up of the election observatory. Data collection in Work Package 1 is done via multiple tools - citizen science webform and qualitative interviews - both aiming to encourage ordinary citizens to contribute to the scientific objective of DeVOTE by sharing their meanings of voting via an open-ended inquiry.
WP2: Variation in the meanings of voting across individuals and across countries
The main aim of Work Package 2 is to understand how widespread in the society the meanings identified in Work Package 1 are and identify their systematic variation across individuals and across countries. Theoretical hypotheses are tested using originally collected cross-sectional survey data in a selection of 12 countries (in Europe and beyond) holding national elections during the runtime of the project. The content of meanings is tracked in surveys via open- and closed-ended questions.
WP3: Causes of the meanings of voting
Elections are defying moments for democratic politics therefore, a broad expectation is that ‘voting’ should become substantially more important especially during election campaigns. However, whether, for whom, under what conditions and which meanings are activated and/or modified by election campaigns are the broad guiding research questions of Work Package 3. The study leverages on a three-wave panel survey design. The citizens interviewed for Work Package 2 months before the election are re-interviewed on the meaning of voting during the election campaign and soon after. Country expert knowledge is also collected to gather a qualitative ‘baseline’ measure of the varying meanings attached to voting by media and political parties in the different countries examined.
WP4: Consequences of the meanings of voting
Work Package 4 studies the attitudinal and behavioural consequences of citizens' meanings of voting. Specifically, in terms of attitudinal consequences, the main objective of Work Package 4 is to study the linkage between ordinary citizen meanings of voting and concrete aspects pertaining to election practices, processes, administration, voting rights, and perceived election legitimacy including preferring alternative forms of democracy like technocracy. In terms of behavioural consequences, the focus is on electoral and non-electoral participation, and engaging in politics offline and online. To achieve these aims, Work Package 4 relies on micro-targeted vignette experiments but also on the data collected for Work Package 2 and Work Package 3.