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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.

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  • 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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    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, 2013. "Minorities and Storable Votes," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Raymond Riezman (ed.), International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 15, pages 247-282, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    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.
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    9. Taylor, Curtis & Yildirim, Huseyin, 2005. "Public Information and Electoral Bias," Working Papers 05-11, Duke University, Department of Economics.
    10. Casella, Alessandra, 2005. "Storable votes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 391-419, May.
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    Cited by:

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    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. Chakravarty, Surajeet & Kaplan, Todd R. & Myles, Gareth, 2018. "When costly voting is beneficial," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 167(C), pages 33-42.
    7. 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.
    8. Tobias Streicher & Sascha L. Schmidt & Dominik Schreyer & Benno Torgler, 2017. "Is it the economy, stupid? The role of social versus economic factors in people’s support for hosting the Olympic Games: evidence from 12 democratic countries," Applied Economics Letters, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 24(3), pages 170-174, February.
    9. 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.
    10. Alessandra Casella & Luis Sanchez, 2019. "Storable Votes and Quadratic Voting. An Experiment on Four California Propositions," NBER Working Papers 25510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    11. Streicher, Tobias & Schmidt, Sascha L. & Schreyer, Dominik & Torgler, Benno, 2020. "Anticipated feelings and support for public mega projects: Hosting the Olympic Games," Technological Forecasting and Social Change, Elsevier, vol. 158(C).
    12. Georgios Gerasimou, 2019. "Simple Preference Intensity Comparisons," Discussion Paper Series, School of Economics and Finance 201905, School of Economics and Finance, University of St Andrews, revised 27 Apr 2020.
    13. David K Levine, 2019. "Radical Markets by Eric Posner and Glen Weyl: a review essay," Levine's Working Paper Archive 786969000000001522, David K. Levine.
    14. 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.
    15. Colin Campbell, 2005. "Let Them Burn Money: Making Elections More Informative," Departmental Working Papers 200512, Rutgers University, Department of Economics.
    16. Kawamura, Kohei, 2013. "Eliciting information from a large population," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 103(C), pages 44-54.
    17. 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.

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    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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