Efficiency, equity, and timing of voting mechanisms
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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