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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
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/505578

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  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. Alessandra Casella & Andrew Gelman, 2005. "A Simple Scheme to Improve the Efficiency of Referenda," Economics Working Papers 0060, Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science.
  4. Howard Margolis, 1977. "Probability of a tie election," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 31(1), pages 135-138, September.
  5. Casella, Alessandra, 2002. "Storable Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 3508, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  6. Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew & Palfrey, Thomas R, 2003. "An Experimental Study of Storable Votes," CEPR Discussion Papers 4081, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  7. Casella, Alessandra & Palfrey, Thomas & Riezman, Raymond, 2008. "Minorities and Storable Votes," Quarterly Journal of Political Science, now publishers, vol. 3(2), pages 165-200, July.
  8. Matsusaka, John G, 1992. "Economics of Direct Legislation," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 107(2), pages 541-71, May.
  9. Rafael Hortala-Vallve, 2012. "Qualitative voting," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 24(4), pages 526-554, October.
  10. 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.
  11. John Ledyard, 1984. "The pure theory of large two-candidate elections," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 44(1), pages 7-41, January.
  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. Taylor, Curtis & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Public Information and Electoral Bias," Working Papers 05-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
  14. 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.
  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.
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