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Efficiency, equity, and timing of voting mechanisms

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  • Battaglini, Marco
  • Morton, Rebecca
  • Palfrey, Thomas R.

Abstract

We compare the behaviour of voters, depending on whether they operate under sequential and simultaneous voting rules, when voting is costly and information is incomplete. In many real political institutions, ranging from small committees to mass elections, voting is sequential, which allows some voters to know the choices of earlier voters. For a stylized model, we characterize the equilibria for this rule, and compare it to simultaneous voting, and show how these equilibria vary for different voting costs. This generates a variety of predictions about the relative efficiency and equity of these two systems, which we test using controlled laboratory experiments. Most of the qualitative predictions are supported by the data, but there are significant departures from the predicted equilibrium strategies, in both the sequential and simultaneous voting games. We find a tradeoff between information aggregation, efficiency, and equity in sequential voting: a sequential voting rule aggregates information better, and produces more efficient outcomes on average, compared to simultaneous voting, but sequential voting leads to significant inequities, with later voters benefiting at the expense of early voters.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences in its series Working Papers with number 1262.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clt:sswopa:1262

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  1. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2007. "Deliberative voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 317-338, May.
  2. Sushil Bikhchandani & David Hirshleifer & Ivo Welch, 2010. "A theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom and cultural change as informational Cascades," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1193, David K. Levine.
  3. Rothenberg, Lawrence S & Sanders, Mitchell S, 2000. " Legislator Turnout and the Calculus of Voting: The Determinants of Abstention in the U.S. Congress," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 259-70, June.
  4. Dekel, E. & Piccione, M., 1999. "Sequential Voting Procedures in Symmetric Binary Elections," Papers 3-99, Tel Aviv.
  5. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections With Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1560, David K. Levine.
  6. Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias K., 2009. "Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 275-291, May.
  7. Tilman Börgers, 2001. "Costly Voting," NajEcon Working Paper Reviews 625018000000000232, www.najecon.org.
  8. Battaglini, Marco, 2005. "Sequential voting with abstention," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 445-463, May.
  9. Dekel, E. & Piccione, M., 1998. "On the equivalence of simulteneous and sequential binary elections," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9801, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  10. Steven Callander, 2007. "Bandwagons and Momentum in Sequential Voting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 653-684.
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Cited by:
  1. Iaryczower, Matias, 2007. "Strategic voting in sequential committees," Working Papers 1275, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  2. Battaglini, Marco & Morton, Rebecca & Palfrey, Thomas, 2005. "The Swing Voter's Curse in the Laboratory," Papers 03-13-2006, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  3. Brian Knight & Nathan Schiff, 2007. "Momentum and Social Learning in Presidential Primaries," NBER Working Papers 13637, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  4. Esteban F. Klory & Eyal Winter, 2006. "On Public Opinion Polls and Voters' Turnout," Levine's Working Paper Archive 321307000000000451, David K. Levine.
  5. Arnaud Dellis & Sean D’Evelyn & Katerina Sherstyuk, 2011. "Multiple votes, ballot truncation and the two-party system: an experiment," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 37(2), pages 171-200, July.

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