Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1767079
 


 



Randomizing Districts for Reelections: A Thought Experiment


Scott Wentland


Longwood University

Peter C. Stone


Trinity College (Dublin); Stanford University


Western Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting Paper

Abstract:     
Legislators depend upon their respective electoral districts for reelection. As a result, they face incentives to advance the interests of their constituencies, even when those interested are at odds with the wider interests of the country as a whole. These incentives generate logrolling, pork barrel projects, and other effects that are potentially detrimental to the national interest. Any solution to these problems would have to align the interests of legislators more closely with the national interest. This paper explores one possible proposal for accomplishing this aim. The proposal would require candidates seeking legislative election (or reelection) to run in different districts for primary and general elections. While a candidate would be at liberty to seek nomination by a particular party in any district she chooses, once nominated she would be required to face the candidates of other parties in another district selected at random. The result would be that legislators would make decisions behind what we call a veil of randomness.Our paper describes such a rule, including its philosophical and economic underpinnings, and subsequently demonstrates how the rule changes each politician’s preference function to align with a more universal interest. It concludes by reflecting upon the lessons of this proposal for the project of institutional reform.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 30

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Date posted: February 22, 2011 ; Last revised: April 21, 2011

Suggested Citation

Wentland, Scott and Stone, Peter C., Randomizing Districts for Reelections: A Thought Experiment. Western Political Science Association 2011 Annual Meeting Paper . Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1767079

Contact Information

Scott Wentland (Contact Author)
Longwood University ( email )
201 High Street
Longwood University
Farmville, VA
United States
HOME PAGE: http://www.scottwentland.com
Peter C. Stone
Trinity College (Dublin) ( email )
2-3 College Green
Dublin, 2
Ireland
Stanford University ( email )
Stanford, CA 94305
United States
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