DP4081 An Experimental Study of Storable Votes

Author(s): Alessandra Casella, Andrew Gelman, Thomas R Palfrey
Publication Date: October 2003
Keyword(s): committees, experiments, storable votes, voting systems
JEL(s): C90, D70, H40
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=4081

The storable votes mechanism is a method of voting for committees that meet periodically to consider a series of binary decisions. Each member is allocated a fixed budget of votes to be cast as desired over the multiple decisions. Voters are induced to spend more votes on those decisions that matter to them most, shifting the ex ante probability of winning away from decisions they value less and towards decisions they value more, typically generating welfare gains over standard majority voting with non-storable votes. The equilibrium strategies have a very intuitive feature ? the number of votes cast must be monotonic in the voter?s intensity of preferences ? but are otherwise difficult to calculate, raising questions of practical implementation. In our experiments, realized efficiency levels were remarkably close to theoretical equilibrium predictions, while subjects adopted monotonic but off-equilibrium strategies. We are lead to conclude that concerns about the complexity of the game may have limited practical relevance.