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Information and Voting: the Wisdom of the Experts versus the Wisdom of the Masses

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Abstract

In a common-values election with continuously distributed information quality, the incentive to pool private information conflicts with the swing voters curse. In equilibrium, therefore, some citizens abstain despite clear private opinions, and others vote despite having arbitrarily many peers with superior information. The dichotomy between one's own and others' information quality can explain the otherwise puzzling empirical relationship between education and turnout, and suggests the importance of relative information variables in explaining turnout, which I verify for U.S. primary elections. Though voluntary elections fail to utilize nonvoters' information, mandatory elections actually do worse; e¤orts to motivate turnout may actually reduce welfare.

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Paper provided by University of Rochester - Wallis Institute of Political Economy in its series Wallis Working Papers with number WP59.

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Length: 42 pages
Date of creation: Jul 2008
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Handle: RePEc:roc:wallis:wp59

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Postal: University of Rochester, Wallis Institute, Harkness 109B Rochester, New York 14627 U.S.A.

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  9. Valentino Larcinese, 2006. "Information Acquisition, Ideology and Turnout:Theory and Evidence from Britain," STICERD - Political Economy and Public Policy Paper Series 18, Suntory and Toyota International Centres for Economics and Related Disciplines, LSE.
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