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(Don’t) Make My Vote Count


  • Faravelli, Marco
  • Sanchez-Pages, Santiago


Proponents of proportional electoral rules often argue that majority rule depresses turnout and may lower welfare due to the 'tyranny of the majority' problem. The present paper studies the impact of electoral rules on turnout and social welfare. We analyze a model of instrumental voting where citizens have private information over their individual cost of voting and over the alternative they prefer. The electoral rule used to select the winning alternative is a combination of majority rule and proportional rule. Results show that the above arguments against majority rule do not hold in this set up. Social welfare and turnout increase with the weight that the electoral rule gives to majority rule when the electorate is expected to be split, and they are independent of the electoral rule employed when the expected size of the minority group tends to zero. However, more proportional rules can increase turnout within the minority group. This effect is stronger the smaller the minority group. We then conclude that majority rule fosters overall turnout and increases social welfare, whereas proportional rule fosters the participation of minorities.

Suggested Citation

  • Faravelli, Marco & Sanchez-Pages, Santiago, 2012. "(Don’t) Make My Vote Count," SIRE Discussion Papers 2012-07, Scottish Institute for Research in Economics (SIRE).
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:sirdps:310

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Abdul Noury, 2004. "Abstention in Daylight: Strategic Calculus of Voting in the European Parliament," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 121(1), pages 179-211, October.
    2. Sayantan Ghosal & Ben Lockwood, 2009. "Costly voting when both information and preferences differ: is turnout too high or too low?," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 33(1), pages 25-50, June.
    3. Evren, Özgür, 2012. "Altruism and voting: A large-turnout result that does not rely on civic duty or cooperative behavior," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 147(6), pages 2124-2157.
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    5. Abdul Ghafar Noury, 2004. "Abstention in the daylight: strategic calculus of voting in the EP," ULB Institutional Repository 2013/7754, ULB -- Universite Libre de Bruxelles.
    6. 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.
    7. Thomas Palfrey & Howard Rosenthal, 1983. "A strategic calculus of voting," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 41(1), pages 7-53, January.
    8. Jacob Goeree & Jens Großer, 2007. "Welfare Reducing Polls," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 31(1), pages 51-68, April.
    9. Bognar, Katalin & Börgers, Tilman & Meyer-ter-Vehn, Moritz, 2010. "An optimal Voting System when Voting is costly," MPRA Paper 29123, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    10. Stephen Coate & Michael Conlin, 2004. "A Group Rule–Utilitarian Approach to Voter Turnout: Theory and Evidence," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(5), pages 1476-1504, December.
    11. repec:cup:apsrev:v:79:y:1985:i:01:p:62-78_22 is not listed on IDEAS
    12. Colin M. Campbell, 1999. "Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 107(6), pages 1199-1217, December.
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    Cited by:

    1. Alejandro Saporiti, 2014. "Power sharing and electoral equilibrium," Economic Theory, Springer;Society for the Advancement of Economic Theory (SAET), vol. 55(3), pages 705-729, April.
    2. Faravelli, Marco & Man, Priscilla & Walsh, Randall, 2015. "Mandate and paternalism: A theory of large elections," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 93(C), pages 1-23.
    3. Marco Faravelli & Priscilla Man & Bang Dinh Nguyen, 2016. "Welfare comparison of electoral systems under power sharing," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(2), pages 413-429, August.

    More about this item


    Costly voting; Incomplete information; Majority rule; Proportional rule; Turnout;

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