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A simple scheme to improve the efficiency of referenda

  • Casella, Alessandra
  • Gelman, Andrew

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.

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Article provided by Elsevier in its journal Journal of Public Economics.

Volume (Year): 92 (2008)
Issue (Month): 10-11 (October)
Pages: 2240-2261

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Handle: RePEc:eee:pubeco:v:92:y:2008:i:10-11:p:2240-2261
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  1. Alessandra Casella & Andrew Gelman, 2005. "A Simple Scheme to Improve the Efficiency of Referenda," NBER Working Papers 11375, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  2. Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2003. "An Experimental Study of Storable Votes," Working Papers 1173, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  3. Alessandra Casella & Thomas Palfrey & Raymond Riezman, 2005. "Minorities and Storable Votes," CESifo Working Paper Series 1583, CESifo Group Munich.
  4. Matthew O Jackson & Hugo F Sonnenschein, 2007. "Overcoming Incentive Constraints by Linking Decisions -super-1," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 75(1), pages 241-257, 01.
  5. Ledyard, John O. & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2000. "The Approximation of Efficient Public Good Mechanisms by Simple Voting Schemes," Working Papers 1092, California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences.
  6. Howard Margolis, 1977. "Probability of a tie election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 135-138, September.
  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. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
  9. Matsusaka, John G, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-71, May.
  10. Casella, Alessandra, 2002. "Storable Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 3508, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  11. Brams, Steven J. & Kilgour, D. Marc & Zwicker, William S., 1996. "The Paradox of Multiple Elections," Working Papers 96-09, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  12. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
  13. Rafael Hortala-Vallve, 2012. "Qualitative voting," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 24(4), pages 526-554, October.
  14. Taylor, Curtis & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Public Information and Electoral Bias," Working Papers 05-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  15. 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.
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