DP5278 Minorities and Storable Votes

Author(s): Alessandra Casella, Thomas R Palfrey, Raymond Riezman
Publication Date: October 2005
Keyword(s): experiments, minorities, tyranny of the majority, voting
JEL(s): C9, D7, H1, K19
Programme Areas: Public Economics
Link to this Page: cepr.org/active/publications/discussion_papers/dp.php?dpno=5278

The paper studies a simple voting system that has the potential to increase the power of minorities without sacrificing aggregate efficiency. Storable votes grant each voter a stock of votes to spend as desired over a series of binary decisions. By cumulating 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 preferences is high and the majority's strength of preferences is low. The result is that aggregate efficiency either falls slightly or in fact rises. The theoretical predictions 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.