For instance, the New York City Comptroller is elected. I’m honestly surprised that even such positions involve public elections.

Is there data on what fraction of voters actually participate to vote for such positions? Even more importantly, what fraction of voters actually look at the records of contenders to make informed votes?

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    That's one reason political parties exist. – Relaxed Feb 10 at 23:54
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    The first question is pretty easy to answer (you're just asking for turnout), but it's very broad – the answer will vary for every different minor position and city or state. The second is much harder to answer and I suspect there might not be reliable data for it (how do you measure whether someone is informed about something?) – divibisan Feb 10 at 23:54
  • @divibisan I understand this is a difficult question, but one can perhaps run surveys to see whether voters are knowledgable about the people (e.g. comptrollers) they are voting for. – J Li Feb 11 at 1:57
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    @Relaxed Then we might as well change the system to have people just voting for political parties who then pick the comptrollers. (Of course, on some level this is what happens). – J Li Feb 11 at 1:58
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    @Relaxed Political theory and poly sci research generally supports this contention. One of the better sources are empirical studies of coattails in Presidential election years in lower political offices (which are very substantial for partisan down ticket races, on average). And, usually partisan affiliation produces with very little effort the same outcome that details due diligence would (there are also studies about that). – ohwilleke Feb 11 at 23:24

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