Minorities and Storable Votes

Casella, Alessandra M.; Palfrey, Thomas R.; Riezman, Raymond

The paper studies a simple voting system that can increase the power of minorities
without sacrificing aggregate efficiency or treating voters asymmetrically. Storable
votes grant each voter a stock of votes to spend as desired over a series of binary
decisions and thus elicit voters’ strength of preferences. The potential of the mechanism
is particularly clear in the presence of systematic minorities: by accumulating
votes on issues that it deems most important, the minority can win occasionally.
But because the majority typically can outvote it, the minority wins only if its
strength of preference is high and the majority’s strength of preference is low. The
result is that the minority’s preferences are represented, while aggregate efficiency
either falls little or in fact rises, relative to simple majority voting. The theoretical
predictions of our model are confirmed by a series of experiments: the frequency
of minority victories, the relative payoff of the minority versus the majority, and
the aggregate payoffs all match the theory.


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Quarterly Journal of Political Science

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February 8, 2015