Foot voting

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Foot voting is expressing one's preferences through one's actions, by voluntarily participating in or withdrawing from an activity, group, or process; especially, physical migration to leave a situation one does not like, or to move to a situation one regards as more beneficial. People who engage in foot voting are said to "vote with their feet".


Legal scholar Ilya Somin has described foot voting as "a tool for enhancing political freedom: the ability of the people to choose the political regime under which they wish to live". [1] Communist leader Vladimir Lenin commented, "They voted with their feet," regarding Russian soldiers deserting the army of the Tsar. [2] The concept has also been associated with Charles Tiebout, who pioneered the concept (although he did not use the term "foot voting") in a 1956 paper, [3] [4] :203 and with Ronald Reagan, who advocated migration between states of the United States as a solution to unsatisfactory local conditions. [5] [6]

Ilya Somin is a law professor at George Mason University, an adjunct scholar at the Cato Institute, a blogger for the Volokh Conspiracy, and a former co-editor of the Supreme Court Economic Review (2006–2013). His research focuses on constitutional law, property law, and the study of popular political participation and its implications for constitutional democracy.

Vladimir Lenin Russian politician, communist theorist, and founder of the Soviet Union

Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, better known by his alias Lenin, was a Russian revolutionary, politician, and political theorist. He served as head of government of Soviet Russia from 1917 to 1924 and of the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1924. Under his administration, Russia and then the wider Soviet Union became a one-party communist state governed by the Russian Communist Party. Ideologically a communist, he developed a variant of Marxism known as Leninism; his ideas were posthumously codified as Marxism–Leninism.

Tsar title given to a male monarch in Russia, Bulgaria and Serbia

Tsar, also spelled csar, or tzar or czar, is a title used to designate East and South Slavic monarchs or supreme rulers of Eastern Europe, originally Bulgarian monarchs from 10th century onwards. As a system of government in the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, it is known as Tsarist autocracy, or Tsarism. The term is derived from the Latin word Caesar, which was intended to mean "Emperor" in the European medieval sense of the term—a ruler with the same rank as a Roman emperor, holding it by the approval of another emperor or a supreme ecclesiastical official —but was usually considered by western Europeans to be equivalent to king, or to be somewhat in between a royal and imperial rank.

Law and politics

Legal scholar Ilya Somin has argued that foot voting requires far less information (on the part of the citizens engaging in it) to be exercised effectively than does literal voting at the ballot box; that foot voters are more strongly motivated to acquire relevant information than are ballot-box voters; and that decentralized federalism promotes the welfare of citizens because it facilitates foot voting. [1] [4] Somin has also used foot voting to make a case for changes in international law to allow easier migration across international borders. [1] Legal scholars Roderick M. Hills, Jr., and Shitong Qiao have used China as a case study to argue that foot voting is ineffective unless meaningful ballot-box voting is also in place. [7] Somin has rebutted this critique. [8]

International law Regulations governing international relations

International law, also known as public international law and law of nations, is the set of rules, norms, and standards generally accepted in relations between nations. It establishes normative guidelines and a common conceptual framework to guide states across a broad range of domains, including war, diplomacy, trade, and human rights. International law thus provides a means for states to practice more stable, consistent, and organized international relations.

Human migration permanent change of residence of people

Human migration is the movement of people from one place to another with the intentions of settling, permanently or temporarily at a new location. The movement is often over long distances and from one country to another, but internal migration is also possible; indeed, this is the dominant form globally. People may migrate as individuals, in family units or in large groups.

Borders are geographic boundaries of political entities or legal jurisdictions, such as governments, sovereign states, federated states, and other subnational entities. Borders are established through agreements between political or social entities that control those areas; the creation of these agreements is called boundary delimitation.


Models from theoretical biology have been applied to elucidate the causal relationships between foot voting and the dissemination of human cultural characteristics. [9]

See also

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<i>Exit, Voice, and Loyalty</i> book by Albert O. Hirschman

Exit, Voice, and Loyalty (1970) is a treatise written by Albert O. Hirschman (1915–2012). The work hinges on a conceptual ultimatum that confronts consumers in the face of deteriorating quality of goods: either exit or voice.

Human capital flight emigration of highly skilled or well-educated individuals

Human capital flight refers to the emigration or immigration of individuals who have received advanced training at home. The net benefits of human capital flight for the receiving country are sometimes referred to as a "brain gain" whereas the net costs for the sending country are sometimes referred to as a "brain drain". In occupations that experience a surplus of graduates, immigration of foreign-trained professionals can aggravate the underemployment of domestic graduates.

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"None of the above", or NOTA for short, also known as "against all" or a "scratch" vote, is a ballot option in some jurisdictions or organizations, designed to allow the voter to indicate disapproval of the candidates in a voting system. It is based on the principle that consent requires the ability to withhold consent in an election, just as they can by voting "No" on ballot questions.

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  1. 1 2 3 Somin, Ilya (2014). "Chapter 4: Foot voting, federalism, and political freedom". In Fleming, James E.; Levy, Jacob T. (eds.). Federalism and Subsidiarity. Nomos LV: yearbook of the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy. New York University Press. pp. 83–119. doi:10.18574/nyu/9781479868858.003.0004. ISBN   978-1479868858. SSRN   2160388 . George Mason University Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-68. Note: the SSRN abstract gives an incorrect page range for the printed book.
  2. Wintringham, T. H. (November 1935). "The road to Caporetto". Left Review. 2 (2): 63–65. Archived from the original on 2017-08-23. Retrieved 2017-09-28 via Marxists Internet Archive.
  3. Tiebout, Charles M. (October 1956). "A pure theory of local expenditures". Journal of Political Economy . 64 (5): 416–424. doi:10.1086/257839.
  4. 1 2 Somin, Ilya (January 2011). "Foot voting, political ignorance, and constitutional design" (PDF). Social Philosophy and Policy. 28 (1): 202–227. doi:10.1017/S0265052510000105. George Mason University Law and Economics Research Paper No. 12-11 via George Mason University. Note: the George Mason University header page gives the date of the journal article incorrectly as November 2010.
  5. Reagan, Ronald (19 November 1981). "Interview with reporters on federalism". The American Presidency Project. University of California, Santa Barbara. Archived from the original on 2017-10-30. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  6. McGrory, Mary (21 January 1982). "Three who can′t 'vote with their feet' are staying, battling NRC". Washington Post . Archived from the original on 2017-10-30. Retrieved 2017-10-30.
  7. Hills, Roderick M., Jr.; Qiao, Shitong (Spring 2017). "Voice and exit as accountability mechanisms: can foot-voting be made safe for the Chinese Communist Party?". Columbia Human Rights Law Review . 48 (3): 158. SSRN   2817652 . University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2016/027.
  8. Somin, Ilya (8 January 2017). "Does effective foot voting depend on ballot box voting?". Volokh Conspiracy . Archived from the original on 2017-10-05. Retrieved 2017-09-29 via Washington Post .
  9. Boyd, Robert; Richerson, Peter J. (21 March 2009). "Voting with your feet: payoff biased migration and the evolution of group beneficial behavior". Journal of Theoretical Biology . 257 (2): 331–339. doi:10.1016/j.jtbi.2008.12.007. PMID   19135062. (author manuscript)