CER-ETH – Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich Working Paper 15/209
81 Pages Posted: 23 Jan 2015
Date Written: January 22, 2015
We introduce 'Balanced Voting', a new voting scheme that is particularly suitable for making fundamental societal decisions. Such decisions typically involve subgroups that are strongly in favor of, or against, a new fundamental direction, and others that care much less. In a two-stage procedure, Balanced Voting works as follows: Citizens may abstain from voting on a fundamental direction in a first stage. In a second voting stage, this guarantees them a voting right on the variations of the fundamental direction chosen in the first. All 'losers' from the first stage also obtain voting rights in the second stage, while 'winners' do not. We develop a model with two fundamental directions for which stakes are high for some individuals and with private information about preferences among voters. We demonstrate that Balanced Voting is superior to simple majority voting, Storable Votes and Minority Voting with regard to utilitarian welfare if the voting body is sufficiently large. Moreover, the outcome under Balanced Voting is Pareto-dominant to the outcome under simple majority voting and Minority Voting. We discuss several aspects that need to be considered when Balanced Voting is applied in practice. We also suggest how Balanced Voting could be applied to elections.
Keywords: Balanced Voting, fundamental decision, tyranny of majority, minority protection
JEL Classification: D7
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation