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Efficiency, Equity, and Timing of Voting Mechanisms

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  • BATTAGLINI, MARCO
  • MORTON, REBECCA
  • PALFREY, THOMAS

Abstract

We compare the behavior 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 simultanous 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 benfitting at the expense of early voters.
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Suggested Citation

  • Battaglini, Marco & Morton, Rebecca & Palfrey, Thomas, 2007. "Efficiency, Equity, and Timing of Voting Mechanisms," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 101(03), pages 409-424, August.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:101:y:2007:i:03:p:409-424_07
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. repec:cup:apsrev:v:98:y:2004:i:01:p:51-63_00 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Eddie Dekel & Michele Piccione, 1997. "On the Equivalence of Simultaneous and Sequential Binary Elections," Discussion Papers 1206, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. Angela A. Hung & Charles R. Plott, 2001. "Information Cascades: Replication and an Extension to Majority Rule and Conformity-Rewarding Institutions," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(5), pages 1508-1520, December.
    4. Battaglini, Marco, 2005. "Sequential voting with abstention," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 445-463, May.
    5. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
    6. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
    7. repec:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:01:p:51-67_21 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Tilman Borgers, 2004. "Costly Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 57-66, March.
    9. 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.
    10. 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 259-270, June.
    11. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2007. "Deliberative voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 317-338, May.
    12. Morton, Rebecca B. & Williams, Kenneth C., 1999. "Information Asymmetries and Simultaneous versus Sequential Voting," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 93(01), pages 51-67, March.
    13. Eddie Dekel & Michele Piccione, 2000. "Sequential Voting Procedures in Symmetric Binary Elections," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 34-55, February.
    14. 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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    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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