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Efficiency, Equity, and Timing in Voting Mechanisms

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

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 stylized model, we characterize the equilibria for this rule, and compare it to simultaneous voting, and show how these equilibria vary for different voting costs. This generates a variety of predictions about the relative efficiency 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 significant departures from the predicted equilibrium strategies, in both the sequential and simultanous voting games. We find a tradeoff between information aggregation, efficiency, and equity in sequential voting: a sequential voting rule aggregates information better, and produces more efficient outcomes on average, compared to simultaneous voting, but sequential voting leads to significant inequities, with later voters benfitting at the expense of early voters.

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Paper provided by Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy in its series Papers with number 09-19-2005c.

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Date of creation: Sep 2005
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Handle: RePEc:ecl:prirpe:09-19-2005c
Contact details of provider: Web page: http://weblamp.princeton.edu/rppe/papers/papers.php

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  1. Gerardi, Dino & Yariv, Leeat, 2007. "Deliberative voting," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 134(1), pages 317-338, May.
  2. 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.
  3. Battaglini, Marco, 2004. "Sequential Voting with Abstention," Papers 05-19-2004, Princeton University, Research Program in Political Economy.
  4. Timothy Feddersen & Wolfgang Pesendorfer, 1997. "Voting Behavior and Information Aggregation in Elections with Private Information," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 65(5), pages 1029-1058, September.
  5. Tilman Börgers, 2001. "Costly Voting," Levine's Working Paper Archive 625018000000000232, David K. Levine.
  6. 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.
  7. Steven Callander, 2007. "Bandwagons and Momentum in Sequential Voting," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 74(3), pages 653-684.
  8. Eddie Dekel & Michele Piccione, 2000. "Sequential Voting Procedures in Symmetric Binary Elections," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 108(1), pages 34-55, February.
  9. Dekel, E. & Piccione, M., 1998. "On the equivalence of simulteneous and sequential binary elections," Discussion Paper Series In Economics And Econometrics 9801, Economics Division, School of Social Sciences, University of Southampton.
  10. 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.
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