Quarterly Journal of Political Science > Vol 3 > Issue 2

Minorities and Storable Votes

Alessandra Casella, Columbia University, Greqam, NBER, CEPR, ac186@columbia.edu Thomas Palfrey, Caltech, trp@hss.caltech.edu Raymond Riezman, University of Iowa, GEP, CES-ifo, raymond-riezman@uiowa.edu
Suggested Citation
Alessandra Casella, Thomas Palfrey and Raymond Riezman (2008), "Minorities and Storable Votes", Quarterly Journal of Political Science: Vol. 3: No. 2, pp 165-200. http://dx.doi.org/10.1561/100.00007048

Published: 29 Jul 2008
© 2007 A. Casella, T. Palfrey and R. Riezman
Voting theory,  Democracy,  Representation,  Formal modelling

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In this article:
The Model
Theoretical Results
Experimental Design
Experimental Results
Supplementary Material Minorities and Storable Votes
Proof of the Proposition
Construction of Figure 1


The paper studies a simple voting system that can increase the power of minorities without sacrificing aggregate efficiency or treating voters asymmetrically. Storable votes grant each voter a stock of votes to spend as desired over a series of binary decisions and thus elicit voters' strength of preferences. The potential of the mechanism is particularly clear in the presence of systematic minorities: by accumulating votes on issues that it deems most important, the minority can win occasionally. But because the majority typically can outvote it, the minority wins only if its strength of preference is high and the majority's strength of preference is low. The result is that the minority's preferences are represented, while aggregate efficiency either falls little or in fact rises, relative to simple majority voting. The theoretical predictions of our model are confirmed by a series of experiments: the frequency of minority victories, the relative payoff of the minority versus the majority, and the aggregate payoffs all match the theory.