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Information Asymmetries and Simultaneous versus Sequential Voting


  • Morton, Rebecca B.
  • Williams, Kenneth C.


We theoretically and empirically compare sequential with simultaneous voting elections and the impact of the representativeness of early voters in sequential voting on the electoral outcome when voters have asymmetric information about the candidates. We use a simple three- candidate model where one candidate is a Condorcet winner, i.e. would defeat either opponent in a pairwise competition. However, under complete information multiple equilibria exist in which any of the three candidates could win election. Theoretically, in simultaneous voting elections with voters asymmetrically informed about the candidates, the candidate better known is more likely to win, regardless of whether this candidate is the Condorcet winner or not. In sequential voting, early voters should vote "informatively" and multiple equilibria exist. Using laboratory elections, we investigate our theoretical predictions and consider which of the equilibrium outcomes are more likely. Better known candidates are more likely to win in simultaneous voting, regardless of candidate type. Early voters in sequential voting elections vote informatively and, when given detail on voting by early voters, later voters appear to infer information about the candidates from early voting. The Condorcet winner is more likely to win in sequential voting elections than in simultaneous voting elections when that candidate is less well known. If early voters are not representative of the voting population, there is evidence that their most preferred candidate is more likely to win if they are able to identity their first preference. However, non-representativeness of early voters increases the likelihood that the Condorcet winner will win in sequential voting.
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  • 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.
  • Handle: RePEc:cup:apsrev:v:93:y:1999:i:01:p:51-67_21

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. 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.
    2. Roger B. Myerson & Robert J. Weber, 1988. "A Theory of Voting Equilibria," Discussion Papers 782, Northwestern University, Center for Mathematical Studies in Economics and Management Science.
    3. 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.
    4. 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.
    5. Abhijit V. Banerjee, 1992. "A Simple Model of Herd Behavior," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(3), pages 797-817.
    6. Sloth Birgitte, 1993. "The Theory of Voting and Equilibria in Noncooperative Games," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 5(1), pages 152-169, January.
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    JEL classification:

    • C7 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory
    • D8 - Microeconomics - - Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty
    • D7 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making


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