The Effect of Handicaps on Turnout for Large Electorates: An Application to Assessment Voting

72 Pages Posted: 20 Aug 2019

See all articles by Hans Gersbach

Hans Gersbach

ETH Zurich - CER-ETH -Center of Economic Reseaarch; IZA Institute of Labor Economics; CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute); Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

Akaki Mamageishvili

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich

Oriol Tejada

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: August 2019

Abstract

We analyze the effect of handicaps on turnout. A handicap is a difference in the vote tally between alternatives that strategic voters take as predetermined when they decide whether to turn out for voting. Handicaps are implicit in many existing democratic procedures. Within a costly voting framework with private values, we show that turnout incentives diminish considerably across the board if handicaps are large, while low handicaps yield more mixed predictions. The results extend beyond the baseline model - e.g. by including uncertainty and behavioral motivations - and can be applied to the optimal design of Assessment Voting. This is a new voting procedure where (i) some randomly-selected citizens vote for one of two alternatives, and the results are published; (ii) the remaining citizens vote or abstain, and (iii) the final outcome is obtained by applying the majority rule to all votes combined. If the size of the first voting group is appropriate, large electorates will choose the majority's preferred alternative with high probability and average participation costs will be moderate or low.

Keywords: Turnout - Referenda - Elections - Pivotal voting - Private value

JEL Classification: C72, D70, D72

Suggested Citation

Gersbach, Hans and Mamageishvili, Akaki and Tejada, Oriol, The Effect of Handicaps on Turnout for Large Electorates: An Application to Assessment Voting (August 2019). CEPR Discussion Paper No. DP13921. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3439476

Hans Gersbach (Contact Author)

ETH Zurich - CER-ETH -Center of Economic Reseaarch ( email )

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IZA Institute of Labor Economics

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CESifo (Center for Economic Studies and Ifo Institute)

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Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

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Akaki Mamageishvili

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland

Oriol Tejada

ETH Zürich - CER-ETH - Center of Economic Research at ETH Zurich ( email )

Zürichbergstrasse 18
Zurich, 8092
Switzerland
41446329693 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.cer.ethz.ch/mip/people/toriol

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