Expert Advice to a Voting Body

19 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2013 Last revised: 30 May 2015

See all articles by Keith E. Schnakenberg

Keith E. Schnakenberg

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science

Date Written: May 27, 2015


I provide a theory of information transmission in collective choice settings. In the model, an expert has private information on the effect of a policy proposal and communicates to a set of voters prior to a vote over whether or not to implement the proposal. In contrast to previous game-theoretic models of political communication, the results apply to situations involving multiple voters, multidimensional policy spaces and a broad class of voting rules. The results highlight how experts can use information to manipulate collective choices in a way that reduces the ex ante expected utilities of all voters. Opportunities for expert manipulation are the result of collective choice instability: all voting rules that allow collective preference cycles also allow welfare-reducing manipulative persuasion by an expert. The results challenge prevailing theories of institutions in which procedures are designed to maximize information transmission.

Keywords: signaling, cheap talk, social choice theory

JEL Classification: D70, D71, D72, D78, D82, D83

Suggested Citation

Schnakenberg, Keith E., Expert Advice to a Voting Body (May 27, 2015). American Political Science Association 2013 Annual Meeting, Available at SSRN: or

Keith E. Schnakenberg (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis - Department of Political Science ( email )

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