Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts
In most instances of collective decision-making, it cannot be expected that all persons who are entitled to vote will end up doing so. This has led institutional designers, out of concerns with the “legitimacy” of decisions, to introduce quorum requirements. A prominent example of this can be found in the context of direct democracy mechanisms, such as referenda and initiatives. We discuss the results of an experiment about the consequences of such quora. We show that quora lead to overall decreases in participation rates, dramatically increasing the likelihood of full-fledged electoral boycotts on the part of status quo supporters.
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