(Don't) Make My Vote Count

Santiago Sanchez-Pages, Marco Faravelli

Research output: Working paperDiscussion paper


Proponents of proportional electoral rules often argue that majority rule depresses turnout and may lower welfare due to the 'tyranny of the majority' problem. The present paper studies the impact of electoral rules on turnout and social welfare. We analyze a model of instrumental voting where citizens have private information over their individual cost of voting and over the alternative they prefer. The electoral rule used to select the winning alternative is a combination of majority rule and proportional rule. Results show that these two arguments against majority rule do not hold in this set up. Social welfare and turnout increase with the weight that the electoral rule gives to majority rule when the electorate is expected to be split, and they are independent of the electoral rule employed when the expected size of the minority group tends to zero. However, more proportional rules can increase participation within the minority group. This effect is stronger the smaller the minority group. We then conclude that majority rule fosters overall turnout and increases social welfare, whereas proportional rule fosters the participation of minority groups.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEdinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 22 May 2012

Publication series

NameESE Discussion Papers


  • costly voting
  • incomplete information
  • majority rule
  • proportional rule
  • turnout
  • C70
  • D72
  • D82

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