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Protecting Minorities in Large Binary Elections. A Test of Storable Votes Using Field Data

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  • Alessandra Casella

    ()
    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - Université de la Méditerranée - Aix-Marseille II - Université Paul Cézanne - Aix-Marseille III - Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) - CNRS : UMR6579, Economics Department, Columbia University - Columbia University)

  • Shuky Ehrenberg

    ()
    (Yale Law School - Université Yale - New Haven)

  • Andrew Gelman

    (Applied Statistics Center Columbia University - Columbia University)

  • Jie Shen

    (Department of Statistics University of California - University of California - Irvine)

Abstract

Democratic systems are built, with good reason, on majoritarian principles, but their legitimacy requires the protection of strongly held minority preferences. The challenge is to do so while treating every voter equally and preserving aggregate welfare. One possible solution is storable votes: granting each voter a budget of votes to cast as desired over multiple decisions. During the 2006 student elections at Columbia University, we tested a simple version of this idea: voters were asked to rank the importance of the different contests and to choose where to cast a single extra "bonus vote," had one been available. We used these responses to construct distributions of intensities and electoral outcomes, both without and with the bonus vote. Bootstrapping techniques provided estimates of the probable impact of the bonus vote. The bonus vote performs well: when minority preferences are particularly intense, the minority wins at least one of the contests with 15--30 percent probability; and, when the minority wins, aggregate welfare increases with 85--95 percent probability. When majority and minority preferences are equally intense, the effect of the bonus vote is smaller and more variable but on balance still positive.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by HAL in its series Working Papers with number halshs-00349037.

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Date of creation: 22 Dec 2008
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Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00349037

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Related research

Keywords: Storable Votes; Referendums; Minorities; Majority Voting; Experiments;

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Cited by:
  1. Di Giannatale, Paolo & Passarelli, Francesco, 2013. "Voting chances instead of voting weights," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 164-173.

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