Book

                                                 

 

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.

Introduction

“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