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The Effect of Handicaps on Turnout for Large Electorates: An Application to Assessment Voting

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  • Gersbach, Hans
  • Mamageishvili, Akaki
  • Tejada, Oriol

Abstract

We analyze the effect of handicaps on turnout. A handicap is a difference in the vote tally between alternatives that strategic voters take as predetermined when they decide whether to turn out for voting. Handicaps are implicit in many existing democratic procedures. Within a costly voting framework with private values, we show that turnout incentives diminish considerably across the board if handicaps are large, while low handicaps yield more mixed predictions. The results extend beyond the baseline model - e.g. by including uncertainty and behavioral motivations - and can be applied to the optimal design of Assessment Voting. This is a new voting procedure where (i) some randomly-selected citizens vote for one of two alternatives, and the results are published; (ii) the remaining citizens vote or abstain, and (iii) the final outcome is obtained by applying the majority rule to all votes combined. If the size of the first voting group is appropriate, large electorates will choose the majority's preferred alternative with high probability and average participation costs will be moderate or low.

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  • Gersbach, Hans & Mamageishvili, Akaki & Tejada, Oriol, 2019. "The Effect of Handicaps on Turnout for Large Electorates: An Application to Assessment Voting," CEPR Discussion Papers 13921, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
  • Handle: RePEc:cpr:ceprdp:13921
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    3. Gersbach, Hans & Mamageishvili, Akaki & Tejada, Oriol, 2020. "Appointed Learning for the Common Good: Optimal Committee Size and Efficient Rewards," CEPR Discussion Papers 15311, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Turnout - Referenda - Elections - Pivotal voting - Private value;

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • D70 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - General
    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior

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