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

Casella, Alessandra M.; Gelman, Andrew E.; Ehrenberg, Shuky; Shen, Jie

The legitimacy of democratic systems requires the protection of minority preferences while ideally treating every voter equally. During the 2006 student elections at Columbia University, we asked voters to rank the importance of different contests and to choose where to cast a single extra "bonus vote," had one been available — a simple version of Storable Votes. We then constructed distributions of intensities and electoral outcomes and estimated the probable impact of the bonus vote through bootstrapping techniques. The bonus vote performs well: when minority preferences are particularly intense, the minority wins at least one contest with 15-30 percent probability; when the minority wins, aggregate welfare increases with 85-95 percent probability. The paper makes two contributions: it tests the performance of storable votes in a setting where preferences were not controlled, and it suggests the use of bootstrapping techniques when appropriate replications of the data cannot be obtained.


Also Published In

The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis and Policy

More About This Work

Academic Units
De Gruyter
Published Here
February 8, 2015