Storable Votes: Protecting the Minority Voice, 2012, New York: Oxford University Press
Storable votes are a simple voting scheme that allows the minority to win occasionally, while treating every voter equally. Because the minority wins only when it cares strongly about a decision while the majority does not, minority victories occur without large costs and indeed typically with gains for the community as a whole.
The idea is simple: consider a group of voters faced with a series of proposals, each of which can either pass or fail. Decisions are taken according to the majority of votes cast, but each voter is endowed with a total budget of votes to spend freely over the multiple decisions. Because voters will choose to cast more votes on decisions that matter to them most, they reveal the intensity of their preferences, and increase their probability of winning exactly when it matters to them most. Thus storable votes elicit and reward voters’ intensity of preferences without the need for any external knowledge of voters’ preferences. By treating everyone equally and ruling out interpersonal vote trades, they are in line with common ethical priors and are robust to criticisms, both normative and positive, that affect vote markets. The book complements the theoretical discussion with several experiments, showing that the promise of the idea is borne out by the data: the outcomes of the experiments and the payoffs realized match very closely the predictions of the theory. Because the intuition behind the voting scheme is so simple: “vote more when you care more,” the results are robust across different scenarios, even when more subtle strategic effects are not identified by the subjects, suggesting that the voting scheme may have real potential for practical applications.
“Under most voting systems, voters have no opportunity to express the intensities of their preferences over candidates. And even when they do, they usually have the incentive to exaggerate the intensities. In this important book, Alessandra Casella develops an ingenious and practicable way to elicit intensities accurately: a voter can save up her votes from elections she doesn’t much care about for use later in a contest that really matters to her.”–Eric S. Maskin, 2007 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Institute for Advanced Study
“Storable Votes is a must-read for economists, political scientists and all those interested in the workings of alternative democratic institutions.”–Jean Tirole, 2014 Nobel Laureate in Economics, Toulouse School of Economics
“Casella has provided a persuasive case for a new method of voting that could be useful in both committees and elections. She makes use of powerful theoretical tools drawn from game theory and creative experimental methods of the kind that economists have found useful. The result is one of the most compelling recommendations for deep reform of age old voting institutions but one which preserves the attractive features of majority rule such as equal treatment of people and proposals. Anyone interested in the theory or application of voting needs to read and study this book.”–John Ferejohn, New York University School of Law
“This impressive book combines thorough theoretical analysis with evidence from laboratory and field experiments, and does all this in wonderfully clear writing. It should be required reading for students and researchers in political science and economics, and more importantly, for all designers and reformers of constitutions and committee procedures.”–Avinash Dixit, Princeton University
“By now it is rare to find completely new voting systems, much less one as innovative as Alessandra Casella’s storable votes. This book provides a comprehensive analysis of storable vote systems, including theoretical background, laboratory and field tests, and useful variations for practical application. It is essential reading for anyone interested in the design of voting systems.”–Matthew O. Jackson, Stanford University
“Storable Votes puts forward a strikingly original idea concerning the design of voting systems. With beautiful clarity, Alessandra Casella shows how the way voting is structured can implicate the most profound issues in democratic theory.”–Richard H. Pildes, New York University School of Law
Networks and Markets. Contributions from Economics and Sociology, (James Rauch and Alessandra Casella eds.), 2001, Russell Sage Foundation: New York.
Networks and Markets argues that economists’ knowledge of markets and sociologists’ rich understanding of networks can and should be combined. Together they can help us achieve a more coherent view of economic life, where transactions follow both the logic of economic incentives and the established channels of personal relationships. Market exchange is impersonal, episodic, and carried out at arm’s length. All that matters is how much the seller is asking, and how much the buyer is offering. An economic network, by contrast, is based upon more personalized and enduring relationships between people tied together by more than just price. Networks and Markets focuses on how the two concepts relate to each other: Are social networks an essential precondition for successful markets, or do networks arise naturally out of markets, as faceless traders build reputations and gain confidence in each other? The book includes contributions by both sociologists and economists, applying the concepts of markets and networks to concrete empirical phenomena. Among the topics analyzed, the book explains how, in Taiwan, South Korea, and Japan, firms combine into tightly-knit business blocs, how wholesalers in a Marseille fish market earn the loyalty of customers, and how ethnic retailers in the U.S. share valuable market information with other shopkeepers from their ethnic group. A response to each chapter discusses the issue from the standpoint of the other discipline. Sociologists are challenged to go beyond small-scale economic exchange and to integrate their concept of networks into a broader understanding of the economic system as a whole, while economists are challenged to consider the economic implications of network ties, which can be strong or weak, unconditional or highly contingent. This book proves that both economics and sociology provide stronger insights when they study markets and networks as parallel forms of exchange. But it also clarifies the healthy division of labor that remains between the two disciplines. Sociologists are adept at showing how markets are framed by social institutions; economists specialize in explaining how markets perform, taking the social context as a given. Networks and Markets showcases what each discipline does best and reveals where each discipline would do better by borrowing from the other.