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Voting as a Public Bad: Theoretical and Experimental Results on Voting Costs

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Type: Conference Paper
Author: Herzberg, Roberta; Wilson, Rick K.
Conference: 1990 Annual Meeting of the Western Political Science Association
Location: Princeton, NJ
Conf. Date: March 22-24, 1990
Date: 1990
URI: https://hdl.handle.net/10535/1107
Sector: Social Organization
Subject(s): public goods and bads
decision making--models
Abstract: "Decision making in any collectivity is costly. When voting, members bear information costs for evaluation competing proposals, they bear opportunity costs for the time taken to conduct a ballot, and they bear the administrative costs for tabulating and registering the outcome. Although many of these costs seem trivial in small settings, in large part this is due to adopting particular institutions to minimize those costs. In largescale settings or where appropriate institutions are absent, the decision costs of voting can become quite high. Regarding voting as a costly activity becomes even more problematic when the collectivity operates under majority rule and an equilibrium outcome fails to exist. Under such a setting every majority has alternatives it prefers to the status quo. The general instability of majority rule processes can lead to an endless agenda cycle. While many scholars have concerned themselves with the problems of indeterminacy in majority rule decision processes few have considered a related problem -- the problem of high decision costs incurred as a result of taking large numbers of votes."

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