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The voter who wasn’t there: Referenda, representation and abstention

Author

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  • Paulo P. Côrte-Real

    ()

  • Paulo T. Pereira

    ()

Abstract

We analyze single binary-choice voting rules and identify the presence of the No-show paradox in this simple setting, as a consequence of specific turnout or quorum conditions that are included in actual rules. Since these conditions are meant to ensure a representative outcome, we try to formalize this concern and reach our main result: no voting rule can ensure representation if abstention is possible, unless specific restrictive assumptions are made on the preference domain of abstainers. We then focus on the main referendum systems and show that appropriate restrictions do make them compatible with representation. The main purpose of our paper is, however, to provide a tool for referendum design. Unawareness of the fact that defining a representative voting system necessarily entails restrictions on the preference domain of non-voters may lead to the imposition of restrictions that do not satisfy any deliberate criteria and generate such problems as the No-show paradox. We therefore recommend instead that a conscious choice be made on how abstention is to be interpreted and that this choice be used as a tool to derive the corresponding referendum rule.
(This abstract was borrowed from another version of this item.)

Suggested Citation

  • Paulo P. Côrte-Real & Paulo T. Pereira, 2004. "The voter who wasn’t there: Referenda, representation and abstention," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 22(2), pages 349-369, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:22:y:2004:i:2:p:349-369
    DOI: 10.1007/s00355-003-0219-9
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    Cited by:

    1. Helios Herrera & Andrea Mattozzi, 2006. "Turnout and Quorum in Referenda," Levine's Bibliography 321307000000000230, UCLA Department of Economics.
    2. Annick Lamelle & Federico Valenciano, 2011. "Majorities with a quorum," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 23(2), pages 241-259, April.
      • Laruelle, Annick & Valenciano Llovera, Federico, 2010. "Majorities with a quorum," IKERLANAK 2010-42, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    3. Birkmeier Olga & Käufl Andreas & Pukelsheim Friedrich, 2011. "Abstentions in the German Bundesrat and ternary decision rules in weighted voting systems," Statistics & Risk Modeling, De Gruyter, vol. 28(1), pages 1-16, March.
    4. Matthew Gould & Matthew D. Rablen, 2016. "Equitable representation in councils: theory and an application to the United Nations Security Council," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 169(1), pages 19-51, October.
    5. Yoichi Hizen, 2015. "A referendum experiment with participation quorums," Working Papers SDES-2015-6, Kochi University of Technology, School of Economics and Management, revised Jan 2015.
    6. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães & Christoph A. Vanberg, 2016. "Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts," Experimental Economics, Springer;Economic Science Association, vol. 19(4), pages 886-909, December.
    7. Hans Peter Grüner & Thomas Tröger, 2018. "Linear voting rules," CRC TR 224 Discussion Paper Series crctr224_002_2018, University of Bonn and University of Mannheim, Germany.
    8. Annick Laruelle & Federico Valenciano, 2012. "Quaternary dichotomous voting rules," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 38(3), pages 431-454, March.
    9. Matthew Gould & Matthew D. Rablen, 2017. "Reform of the United Nations Security Council: equity and efficiency," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 173(1), pages 145-168, October.
    10. 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.
    11. Alaitz Artabe & Annick Laruelle & Federico Valenciano, 2012. "Preferences, actions and voting rules," SERIEs: Journal of the Spanish Economic Association, Springer;Spanish Economic Association, vol. 3(1), pages 15-28, March.
    12. Yoichi Hizen & Masafumi Shinmyo, 2011. "Imposing a turnout threshold in referendums," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 148(3), pages 491-503, September.
    13. Ines Lindner, 2008. "A Special Case of Penrose’s Limit Theorem When Abstention is Allowed," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 64(4), pages 495-518, June.
    14. repec:spr:homoec:v:34:y:2017:i:1:d:10.1007_s41412-017-0040-9 is not listed on IDEAS
    15. Patricia Charléty & Marie-Cécile Fagart & Saïd Souam, 2017. "Quorum Rules and Shareholder Power," EconomiX Working Papers 2017-35, University of Paris Nanterre, EconomiX.
    16. repec:spr:annopr:v:244:y:2016:i:2:d:10.1007_s10479-016-2124-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    17. Laruelle, Annick & Valenciano Llovera, Federico, 2010. "Majorities with a quorum," IKERLANAK 2010-42, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    18. Freixas, Josep & Zwicker, William S., 2009. "Anonymous yes-no voting with abstention and multiple levels of approval," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 67(2), pages 428-444, November.
    19. Nicolas Houy, 2009. "A characterization of majority voting rules with quorums," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 67(3), pages 295-301, September.
    20. Grüner, Hans Peter & Tröger, Thomas, 2016. "Optimal voting mechanisms with costly participation and abstention," CEPR Discussion Papers 11127, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    21. Valenciano Llovera, Federico & Artabe, Alaitz & Laruelle, Annick, 2011. "Preferences, actions and voting rules," IKERLANAK 2011-48, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
    22. repec:spr:soinre:v:133:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s11205-016-1408-0 is not listed on IDEAS
    23. Marc Pauly, 2013. "Characterizing referenda with quorums via strategy-proofness," Theory and Decision, Springer, vol. 75(4), pages 581-597, October.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • D71 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Social Choice; Clubs; Committees; Associations

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