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Published October 22, 2019 | Accepted Version
Report Open

Trading Votes for Votes. A Dynamic Theory


We develop a framework to study the dynamics of vote trading over multiple binary issues. We prove that there always exists a stable allocation of votes that is reachable in a finite number of trades, for any number of voters and issues, any separable preference profile, and any restrictions on the coalitions that may form. If at every step all blocking trades are chosen with positive probability, convergence to a stable allocation occurs in finite time with probability one. If coalitions are unrestricted, the outcome of vote trading must be Pareto optimal, but unless there are three voters or two issues, it need not correspond to the Condorcet winner. If trading is farsighted, a non-empty set of stable vote allocations reachable from a starting vote allocation need not exist, and if it does exist it need not include the Condorcet winner, even in the case of two issues.

Additional Information

We thank Yimeng Li, Kirill Pogorelskiy, and Enrico Zanardo for research assistance, and participants at several research conferences and seminars for their comments. We especially thank Scott Ashworth, Micael Castanheira, Reyer Gerlagh, Michel LeBreton, Cesar Martinelli, Debraj Ray, Richard Van Weelden, Rajiv Vohra, and Alistair Wilson for detailed comments and suggestions. The National Science Foundation (SES-1426560; SES-0617934) and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation (SES-1158) provided financial support. Part of the research was conducted while Casella was a Straus Fellow at NYU Law School and Palfrey was a Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation. The hospitality and financial support of both institutions are gratefully acknowledged. The present manuscript expands on an earlier working paper version entitled Trading Votes for Votes: A Decentralized Matching Algorithm.

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Accepted Version - sswp1444.pdf


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