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Protecting Minorities in Large Binary Elections. A Test of Storable Votes Using Field Data

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  • Alessandra Casella

    (GREQAM - Groupement de Recherche en Économie Quantitative d'Aix-Marseille - EHESS - École des hautes études en sciences sociales - AMU - Aix Marseille Université - ECM - École Centrale de Marseille - CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique, Economics Department, Columbia University - Columbia University [New York])

  • Shuky Ehrenberg

    (Yale Law School - Yale University [New Haven])

  • Andrew Gelman

    (Applied Statistics Center Columbia University - Columbia University [New York])

  • Jie Shen

    (Department of Statistics University of California - UC Irvine - University of California [Irvine] - UC - University of California)

Abstract

Democratic systems are built, with good reason, on majoritarian principles, but their legitimacy requires the protection of strongly held minority preferences. The challenge is to do so while treating every voter equally and preserving aggregate welfare. One possible solution is storable votes: granting each voter a budget of votes to cast as desired over multiple decisions. During the 2006 student elections at Columbia University, we tested a simple version of this idea: voters were asked to rank the importance of the different contests and to choose where to cast a single extra "bonus vote," had one been available. We used these responses to construct distributions of intensities and electoral outcomes, both without and with the bonus vote. Bootstrapping techniques provided estimates of the probable impact of the bonus vote. The bonus vote performs well: when minority preferences are particularly intense, the minority wins at least one of the contests with 15--30 percent probability; and, when the minority wins, aggregate welfare increases with 85--95 percent probability. When majority and minority preferences are equally intense, the effect of the bonus vote is smaller and more variable but on balance still positive.

Suggested Citation

  • Alessandra Casella & Shuky Ehrenberg & Andrew Gelman & Jie Shen, 2008. "Protecting Minorities in Large Binary Elections. A Test of Storable Votes Using Field Data," Working Papers halshs-00349037, HAL.
  • Handle: RePEc:hal:wpaper:halshs-00349037
    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: https://shs.hal.science/halshs-00349037
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Hortala-Vallve, Rafael & Llorente-Saguer, Aniol, 2010. "A simple mechanism for resolving conflict," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 70(2), pages 375-391, November.
    2. Alessandra Casella & Thomas Palfrey & Raymond Riezman, 2013. "Minorities and Storable Votes," World Scientific Book Chapters, in: Raymond Riezman (ed.), International Trade Agreements and Political Economy, chapter 15, pages 247-282, World Scientific Publishing Co. Pte. Ltd..
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    6. Casella, Alessandra, 2005. "Storable votes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 51(2), pages 391-419, May.
    7. Casella, Alessandra & Gelman, Andrew & Palfrey, Thomas R., 2006. "An experimental study of storable votes," Games and Economic Behavior, Elsevier, vol. 57(1), pages 123-154, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Di Giannatale, Paolo & Passarelli, Francesco, 2013. "Voting chances instead of voting weights," Mathematical Social Sciences, Elsevier, vol. 65(3), pages 164-173.
    2. Alessandra Casella & Luis Sanchez, 2019. "Storable Votes and Quadratic Voting. An Experiment on Four California Propositions," NBER Working Papers 25510, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.

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