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The Effect of Approval Balloting on Strategic Voting under Alternative Decision Rules


  • Merrill, Samuel
  • Nagel, Jack


Voting systems combine balloting methods with decision rules or procedures. Most analyses of approval voting (a balloting method) assume it will be combined with plurality rule but advocates often urge its use with more complex procedures. Because much of the case for approval balloting hinges on its encouragement of sincere voting, we ask whether it retains this advantage when combined with multistage procedures. After distinguishing five forms of sincere and insincere approval voting, we find that certain elements of multistage procedures promote departures from purely sincere strategies, including, in some instances, strictly insincere voting. However, most strategic approval voting involves truncating the approved list, including bullet-voting, which is especially likely under certain threshold rules. Coalitions also increase members' incentive to truncate. We conclude that approval balloting with plurality rule remains preferable to conventional single-vote plurality, but we urge caution and further research regarding combining approval balloting with multistage rules.

Suggested Citation

  • Merrill, Samuel & Nagel, Jack, 1987. "The Effect of Approval Balloting on Strategic Voting under Alternative Decision Rules," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 81(2), pages 509-524, June.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:81:y:1987:i:02:p:509-524_19

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    Cited by:

    1. Granić, Đura-Georg, 2017. "The problem of the divided majority: Preference aggregation under uncertainty," Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, Elsevier, vol. 133(C), pages 21-38.
    2. Steven J. Brams & D. Marc Kilgour, 2014. "Satisfaction Approval Voting," Studies in Choice and Welfare, in: Rudolf Fara & Dennis Leech & Maurice Salles (ed.), Voting Power and Procedures, edition 127, pages 323-346, Springer.
    3. Núñez, Matías & Pivato, Marcus, 2019. "Truth-revealing voting rules for large populations," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 113(C), pages 285-305.
    4. Núñez, Matías & Laslier, Jean-François, 2015. "Bargaining through Approval," Journal of Mathematical Economics, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 63-73.
    5. Laslier, Jean-François & Núñez, Matías & Pimienta, Carlos, 2017. "Reaching consensus through approval bargaining," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 104(C), pages 241-251.
    6. Steven Brams & D. Kilgour & M. Sanver, 2007. "A minimax procedure for electing committees," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 132(3), pages 401-420, September.
    7. repec:hal:pseose:halshs-01310223 is not listed on IDEAS
    8. Alcalde-Unzu, Jorge & Vorsatz, Marc, 2009. "Size approval voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 144(3), pages 1187-1210, May.
    9. Nuñez, M. & Valletta, G., 2012. "The information simplicity of scoring rules," Research Memorandum 011, Maastricht University, Maastricht Research School of Economics of Technology and Organization (METEOR).
    10. Matías Núñez, 2014. "The strategic sincerity of Approval voting," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 56(1), pages 157-189, May.
    11. Steven Brams & Richard Potthoff, 2015. "The paradox of grading systems," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 165(3), pages 193-210, December.
    12. Bruno S. Frey & Lasse Steiner, 2014. "Random Selection in Politics, Science and Society: Applications and Institutional Embeddedness," CREMA Working Paper Series 2014-09, Center for Research in Economics, Management and the Arts (CREMA).
    13. Michel Regenwetter & Bernard Grofman, 1998. "Approval Voting, Borda Winners, and Condorcet Winners: Evidence from Seven Elections," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(4), pages 520-533, April.
    14. Miguel Ballester & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2009. "Does uncertainty lead to sincerity? Simple and complex voting mechanisms," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 33(3), pages 477-494, September.
    15. Alós-Ferrer, Carlos & Buckenmaier, Johannes, 2019. "Strongly sincere best responses under approval voting and arbitrary preferences," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 117(C), pages 388-401.
    16. Hannu Nurmi, 2014. "Some remarks on the concept of proportionality," Annals of Operations Research, Springer, vol. 215(1), pages 231-244, April.
    17. Ulle Endriss, 2013. "Sincerity and manipulation under approval voting," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 74(3), pages 335-355, March.
    18. Arnaud Dellis & Mandar Oak, 2016. "Multiple votes, multiple candidacies and polarization," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 46(1), pages 1-38, January.
    19. Bruno S. Frey & Lasse Steiner, 2014. "God does not play dice, but people should: random selection in politics, science and society," ECON - Working Papers 144, Department of Economics - University of Zurich.
    20. Jean-François Laslier & Matías Núñez & Carlos Pimienta, 2015. "Reaching Consensus Through Simultaneous Bargaining," Discussion Papers 2015-08, School of Economics, The University of New South Wales.

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