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On the Benefits of Costly Voting

Vijay Krishna and John Morgan

No 83, Economics Working Papers from Institute for Advanced Study, School of Social Science

Abstract: We study strategic voting in a Condorcet type model in which voters have identical preferences but differential information. Voters incur private costs of going to the polls and may abstain if they wish; hence voting is voluntary. We show that under majority rule with voluntary voting, it is an equilibrium to vote sincerely. Thus, in contrast to situations with compulsory voting, there is no conflict between strategic and sincere behavior. In large elections, the equilibrium is shown to be unique. Furthermore, participation rates are such that, in the limit, the correct candidate is elected with probability one. Finally, we show that in large elections, voluntary voting is welfare superior to compulsory voting.

Pages: 36 pages
Date: 2008-05
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