“In the Western democracies elections are conceived to be the most important institution of popular control of governments conduct. On a formal and routine basis, elections allow mass publics the opportunity to influence their ruler’s actions. It is largely the availability of the electoral sanction that the possibility of popular control of the state is taken seriously by Americans and the citizens of other democracies."
“But rather than present a simple solution to the problem of the state’s power, the election poses a fundamental and complex dilemma. The democratic election, the most important means yet devised to enable citizens to exercise some measure of formal control over their government’s actions, is at the same time one of the most important means by which contemporary governments maintain a measure of control over their citizens. However real the possibilities of popular control through the ballot box, the election is at the same time an institution of governance. As though a single pedal controlled both an automobile’s brakes and its accelerator, the principal mechanism by which citizens attempt to control the state simultaneously helps both to limit popular intervention in the governmental process and to increase the state’s authority and power.”
“What voters decide is not at all the most significant aspect of the electoral process. Voter’s decisions can sometimes be important. But in many respects, what voters decide, and thus how they come to vote as they do, is far less consequential for government and politics than the simple fact of voting itself. The impact of electoral decisions upon the governmental process is analogous to the impact made upon organized religion by individuals who obey the injunction to worship at the church of their choice. The fact of mass electoral participation is generally fat more significant for the state than what or how citizens decide once they participate. It is the institution of the election rather than any particular pattern of voting that is critical, even for those regimes that can sometimes be affected by what voters decide.” (Benjamin, 5)
Ginsberg, Benjamin. The Consequences of Consent: Elections, Citizen Control and Popular Acquiesence. Addison-Wesley Publishing Company, 1982. Print. Essential reading for understanding and developing critiques against the electoral system as a means of substantive, long-standing political change and as a means of social control that inhibits creative acts of resistance. Ginsberg offers "an inquiry into and an argument about the history, character and significance of democratic electoral institutions. ... Voting studies are typically concerned with the character and implications of voters' choices. The central concerns of this book, by contrast, are the implications for government and politics of the very existence of democratic electoral institutions."