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Efficiency, equity, and timing of voting mechanisms

  • Battaglini, Marco
  • Morton, Rebecca
  • Palfrey, Thomas R.

We compare the behavior of voters, depending on whether they operate under sequential and simultaneous voting rules, when voting is costly and information is incomplete. In many real political institutions, ranging from small committees to mass elections, voting is sequential, which allows some voters to know the choices of earlier voters. For a styl- ized model, we characterize the equilibria for this rule, and compare it to simultaneous voting, and show how these equilibria vary for di¤erent voting costs. This generates a variety of predictions about the relative e¢ ciency and equity of these two systems, which we test using controlled laboratory experiments. Most of the qualitative predictions are supported by the data, but there are signi?cant departures from the predicted equilib- rium strategies, in both the sequential and sumultanous voting games. We ?nd a tradeo¤ between information aggregation, e¢ ciency, and equity in sequential voting: a sequential voting rule aggregates information better, and produces more e¢ cient outcomes on aver- age, compared to simultaneous voting, but sequential voting leads to signi?cant inequities, with later voters ben?tting at the expense of early voters.

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Paper provided by California Institute of Technology, Division of the Humanities and Social Sciences in its series Working Papers with number 1262.

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Length: 40 pages
Date of creation: Dec 2006
Date of revision:
Handle: RePEc:clt:sswopa:1262
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  1. Tilman Borgers, 2004. "Costly Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 57-66, March.
  2. Bikhchandani, Sushil & Hirshleifer, David & Welch, Ivo, 1992. "A Theory of Fads, Fashion, Custom, and Cultural Change in Informational Cascades," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 100(5), pages 992-1026, October.
  3. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2007. "Deliberative voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 317-338, May.
  4. Dekel, E. & Piccione, M., 1999. "Sequential Voting Procedures in Symmetric Binary Elections," Papers 3-99, Tel Aviv.
  5. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections With Private Information," Levine's Working Paper Archive 1560, David K. Levine.
  6. Steven Callander, 2007. "Bandwagons and Momentum in Sequential Voting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 653-684.
  7. Krasa, Stefan & Polborn, Mattias K., 2009. "Is mandatory voting better than voluntary voting?," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 66(1), pages 275-291, May.
  8. Battaglini, Marco, 2005. "Sequential voting with abstention," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 445-463, May.
  9. Rothenberg, Lawrence S & Sanders, Mitchell S, 2000. " Legislator Turnout and the Calculus of Voting: The Determinants of Abstention in the U.S. Congress," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 103(3-4), pages 259-70, June.
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