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Published August 1, 2017 | Submitted
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An Experimental Study of Storable Votes


The storable votes mechanism is a method of voting for committees that meet periodically to consider a series of binary decisions. Each member is allocated a fixed budget of votes to be cast as desired over the multiple decisions. Voters are induced to spend more votes on those decisions that matter to them most, shifting the ex ante probability of winning away from decisions they value less and towards decisions they value more, typically generating welfare gains over standard majority voting with non-storable votes. The equilibrium strategies have a very intuitive feature–-the number of votes cast must be monotonic in the voter's intensity of preferences–-but are otherwise difficult to calculate, raising questions of practical implementation. In our experiments, realized efficiency levels were remarkably close to theoretical equilibrium predictions, while subjects adopted monotonic but off-equilibrium strategies. We are lead to conclude that concerns about the complexity of the game may have limited practical relevance.

Additional Information

The authors are grateful for the financial support of the National Science Foundation (Grants MRI-9977244, SES-0084368 and SES-00214013) and the SSEL and CASSEL laboratories at Caltech and UCLA, respectively. We benefited from comments by Avinash Dixit and participants at the 2002 meetings of the Economic Science Association in Boston, the Association for Public Economic Theory in Paris, the 2003 Economic Theory Conference in Rhodos, and at seminars at Bologna, GREQAM, SMU, and the University of Pennsylvania. We thank Nobuyuki Hanaki and Brian Rogers for excellent research assistance.

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