This paper is devoted to assessing whether and how the extent to which party systems are ethnically dominated affects the quality of democracy. Using Afrobarometer survey data, we devise a new index for measuring levels of ethnic voting (CVELI) and statistically test its relationship to measures of the quality of democracy. From sub-Saharan Africa, we find evidence to suggest that the extent to which party systems are ethnically dominated does negatively affect certain measures of the quality of democracy. Where all or most political parties are ethnically based parties, there is less respect for civil liberties, elections are perceived to be less free and fair, people are less satisfied with the delivery of public goods and report a greater degree of corruption in government. We conclude that, all else being equal, the quality of democracy may be enhanced by implementing integrative electoral systems and promoting economic and social conditions that are likely to decrease the supply of, in addition to the demand for, ethnically based parties.