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Experimental evidence that quorum rules discourage turnout and promote election boycotts

  • Luís Francisco Aguiar-Conraria

    ()

    (Universidade do Minho - NIPE)

  • Pedro C. Magalhães

    ()

    (University of Lisbon, Social Sciences Institute)

  • Christoph A. Vanberg

    ()

    (Alfred-Weber-Institut, University of Heidelberg)

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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Paper provided by NIPE - Universidade do Minho in its series NIPE Working Papers with number 14/2013.

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Date of creation: 2013
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Handle: RePEc:nip:nipewp:14/2013
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  1. Helios Herrera & Andrea Mattozzi, 2010. "Quorum and Turnout in Referenda," Journal of the European Economic Association, MIT Press, vol. 8(4), pages 838-871, 06.
  2. Annick Lamelle & Federico Valenciano, 2011. "Majorities with a quorum," Journal of Theoretical Politics, , vol. 23(2), pages 241-259, April.
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  7. Valenciano Llovera, Federico & Laruelle, Annick, 2010. "Quaternary dichotomous voting rules," IKERLANAK 2010-41, Universidad del País Vasco - Departamento de Fundamentos del Análisis Económico I.
  8. 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.
  9. Coate, Stephen & Conlin, Michael & Moro, Andrea, 2008. "The performance of pivotal-voter models in small-scale elections: Evidence from Texas liquor referenda," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 92(3-4), pages 582-596, April.
  10. Paulo P. Côrte-Real & Paulo T. Pereira, 2004. "The voter who wasn’t there: Referenda, representation and abstention," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer, vol. 22(2), pages 349-369, 04.
  11. Tilman Borgers, 2004. "Costly Voting," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 94(1), pages 57-66, March.
  12. Matsusaka, John G, 1993. " Election Closeness and Voter Turnout: Evidence from California Ballot Propositions," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 76(4), pages 313-34, August.
  13. John G. Matsusaka, 2005. "Direct Democracy Works," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 19(2), pages 185-206, Spring.
  14. Myerson, Roger B., 2000. "Large Poisson Games," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 94(1), pages 7-45, September.
  15. Arthur Schram & John Sonnemans, 2001. "Voter Turnout as a Participation Game: An Experimental Investigation," Levine's Working Paper Archive 563824000000000033, David K. Levine.
  16. Luís Aguiar-Conraria & Pedro C. Magalhães, 2008. "Referendum Design, Quorum Rules and Turnout," NIPE Working Papers 05/2008, NIPE - Universidade do Minho.
  17. Aguiar-Conraria, Luís & Magalhães, Pedro C., 2010. "How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: Evidence from a pivotal voter model," European Journal of Political Economy, Elsevier, vol. 26(4), pages 541-557, December.
  18. John Duffy & Margit Tavits, 2006. "Beliefs and Voting Decisions: A Test of the Pivotal Voter Model," Working Papers 273, University of Pittsburgh, Department of Economics, revised May 2007.
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