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A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda

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  • Casella, Alessandra
  • Gelman, Andrew

Abstract

Referenda are becoming a common tool for public decision-making, and as reliance on direct democracy increases, so does the importance of giving representation to strongly held minority preferences. This paper discusses a very simple scheme that treats everybody symmetrically but gives weight to intense preferences: voters faced with a number of binary proposals are given one regular vote for each proposal plus a single additional bonus vote to cast as desired. Decisions are then taken according to the majority of votes cast. We study the scheme in a number of different models and identify empirically plausible conditions under which ex ante utility increases, relative to simple majority voting.

Suggested Citation

  • Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew, 2008. "A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2240-2261, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:10-11:p:2240-2261
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2006. "An experimental study of storable votes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 123-154, October.
    2. Alessandra Casella & Thomas Palfrey & Raymond Riezman, 2006. "Minorities and Storable Votes," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000199, UCLA Department of Economics.
    3. Steven J. Brams & William S. Zwicker & D. Marc Kilgour, 1998. "The paradox of multiple elections," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 15(2), pages 211-236.
    4. repec:cup:apsrev:v:92:y:1998:i:01:p:127-144_20 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew, 2008. "A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2240-2261, October.
    6. Rafael Hortala-Vallve, 2012. "Qualitative voting," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 24(4), pages 526-554, October.
    7. Chamberlain, Gary & Rothschild, Michael, 1981. "A note on the probability of casting a decisive vote," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 25(1), pages 152-162, August.
    8. Alessandra Casella & Thomas Palfrey & Raymond Riezman, 2013. "Minorities and Storable Votes," World Scientific Book Chapters,in: International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 15, pages 247-282 World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
    9. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
    10. Taylor, Curtis & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Public Information and Electoral Bias," Working Papers 05-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    11. Casella, Alessandra, 2005. "Storable votes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 391-419, May.
    12. Alvin E. Roth, 2002. "The Economist as Engineer: Game Theory, Experimentation, and Computation as Tools for Design Economics," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 70(4), pages 1341-1378, July.
    13. Ledyard, John O. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2002. "The approximation of efficient public good mechanisms by simple voting schemes," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 83(2), pages 153-171, February.
    14. John G. Matsusaka, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-571.
    15. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
    16. Matthew O Jackson & Hugo F Sonnenschein, 2007. "Overcoming Incentive Constraints by Linking Decisions -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 241-257, January.
    17. Howard Margolis, 1977. "Probability of a tie election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 135-138, September.
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    Cited by:

    1. repec:eee:gamebe:v:104:y:2017:i:c:p:468-485 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Sascha O Becker & Thiemo Fetzer & Dennis Novy, 2017. "Who voted for Brexit? A comprehensive district-level analysis," Economic Policy, CEPR;CES;MSH, vol. 32(92), pages 601-650.
    3. François Maniquet & Massimo Morelli, 2015. "Approval quorums dominate participation quorums," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 45(1), pages 1-27, June.
    4. Alessandra Casella, 2008. "Storable Votes and Agenda Order Control. Theory and Experiments," NBER Working Papers 14487, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    5. Miralles, Antonio, 2012. "Cardinal Bayesian allocation mechanisms without transfers," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(1), pages 179-206.
    6. repec:eee:pubeco:v:167:y:2018:i:c:p:33-42 is not listed on IDEAS
    7. David K Levine, 2019. "Radical Markets by Eric Posner and Glen Weyl: a review essay," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000001522, David K. Levine.
    8. Casella, Alessandra & sanchez, luis, 2019. "Storable Votes and Quadratic Voting. An Experiment on Four California Propositions," CEPR Discussion Papers 13479, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    9. Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew, 2008. "A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(10-11), pages 2240-2261, October.
    10. Alessandra Casella & Sébastien Turban & Gregory Wawro, 2017. "Storable votes and judicial nominations in the US Senate," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 29(2), pages 243-272, April.
    11. Colin Campbell, 2005. "Let Them Burn Money: Making Elections More Informative," Departmental Working Papers 200512, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    12. repec:taf:apeclt:v:24:y:2017:i:3:p:170-174 is not listed on IDEAS
    13. Casella Alessandra & Ehrenberg Shuky & Gelman Andrew & Shen Jie, 2010. "Protecting Minorities in Large Binary Elections: A Test of Storable Votes Using Field Data," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 10(1), pages 1-35, October.
    14. Kawamura, Kohei, 2013. "Eliciting information from a large population," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 44-54.
    15. Casella, Alessandra, 2011. "Agenda control as a cheap talk game: Theory and experiments with Storable Votes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 72(1), pages 46-76, May.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Referendum Voting Majority voting Large elections Storable votes Direct democracy;

    JEL classification:

    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • H10 - Public Economics - - Structure and Scope of Government - - - General
    • K19 - Law and Economics - - Basic Areas of Law - - - Other

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