21 Pages Posted: 2 Jul 2018 Last revised: 22 Jan 2020
Date Written: August 14, 2018
Many countries have introduced e-government petitioning systems, in which a petition that gathers enough signatures triggers some political outcome. The key features of such systems are a large number of potential signatories and a low cost of signing. This paper models citizens who choose whether to sign a petition. Citizens are imperfectly informed about the petition's chance of bringing change. The number of citizens approaches infinity, while the cost of signing is positive but low, falling within certain bounds. In the limit, at the equilibrium citizens who sign the petition are almost surely not pivotal. Participation is increasing in the required quota of signatures. Social welfare is decreasing in the quota. The petition is informationally efficient if and only if citizens are sufficiently well informed.
Keywords: petitions, e-government, collective action, voting, political participation
JEL Classification: D72, D82
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation