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Published October 18, 2019 | Accepted Version
Report Open

An Experimental Study of Vote Trading


Vote trading is believed to be ubiquitous in committees and legislatures, and yet we know very little of its properties. We return to this old question with a laboratory experiment. We posit that pairs of voters exchange votes whenever doing so is mutually advantageous. This generates trading dynamics that always converge to stable vote allocations--allocations where no further improving trades exist. The data show that stability has predictive power: vote allocations in the lab converge towards stable allocations, and individual vote holdings at the end of trading are in line with theoretical predictions. However, there is only weak support for the dynamic trading process itself.

Additional Information

We thank Enrico Zanardo, Kirill Pogorelskiy and Manuel Puente for research assistance, and participants to numerous seminars and conferences for comments. We especially wish to thank Micael Castanheira, Andrew Gelman, Michel LeBreton, Debraj Ray, Richard Van Veelden, Rajiv Vohra, and Alistair Wilson for detailed comments and suggestions. The National Science Foundation (SES-1426560) 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. An earlier version of this paper was part of a working paper entitled "Trading Votes for Votes: A Decentralized Matching Algorithm".

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Accepted Version - sswp1445.pdf


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