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(Don’t) Make My Vote Count

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Proponents of proportional electoral rules often argue that majority rule depresses turnout and may lower welfare due to the “tyranny of the majority†problem. The present paper studies the impact of electoral rules on turnout and social welfare. We analyze a model of instrumental voting where citizens have private information over their individual cost of voting and over the alternative they prefer. The electoral rule used to select the winning alternative is a combination of majority rule and proportional rule. Results show that the above arguments against majority rule do not hold in this set up. Social welfare and turnout increase with the weight that the electoral rule gives to majority rule when the electorate is expected to be split, and they are independent of the electoral rule employed when the expected size of the minority group tends to zero. However, more proportional rules can increase turnout within the minority group. This e¤ect is stronger the smaller the minority group. We then conclude that majority rule fosters overall turnout and increases social welfare, whereas proportional rule fosters the participation of minorities.

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Paper provided by School of Economics, University of Queensland, Australia in its series Discussion Papers Series with number 464.

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Date of creation: 2012
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Handle: RePEc:qld:uq2004:464

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  1. Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
  2. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
  3. Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias K., 2009. "Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 275-291, May.
  4. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
  5. Sayantan Ghosal & Ben Lockwood, 2009. "Costly voting when both information and preferences differ: is turnout too high or too low?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, Springer, vol. 33(1), pages 25-50, June.
  6. Özgür Evren, 2012. "Altruism and Voting: A Large-Turnout Result That Does not Rely on Civic Duty or Cooperative Behavior," Working Papers, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR) w0173, Center for Economic and Financial Research (CEFIR).
  7. Abdul Noury, 2004. "Abstention in Daylight: Strategic Calculus of Voting in the European Parliament," Public Choice, Springer, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 179-211, October.
  8. Bognar, Katalin & Börgers, Tilman & Meyer-ter-Vehn, Moritz, 2010. "An optimal Voting System when Voting is costly," MPRA Paper 29123, University Library of Munich, Germany.
  9. Jacob Goeree & Jens Großer, 2007. "Welfare Reducing Polls," Economic Theory, Springer, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 51-68, April.
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