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Voting Expressively

  • Economics Discussion Papers
  • January 2, 2019
  • Abhinash Borah,
  • Abhinash Borah

We address a common criticism directed towards models of expressive voting that they are ad hoc in nature. To that end, we propose a foundation for expressive behavior that is based on a novel theory of social preferences under risk. Under our proposal, expressive considerations in behavior arise from the particular way in which risky social prospects are assessed by decision makers who want to interpret their choices as moral. To illustrate the scope of our framework, we use it to address some key questions in the literature on expressive voting: why, for expressive considerations, might voters vote against their self-interest in large elections and why might such elections exhibit a moral bias (Feddersen et al. 2009). Specifically, we consider an electoral set-up with two alternatives and explain why, when the size of the electorate is large, voters may want to vote for the alternative they deem morally superior even if this alternative happens to be strictly less preferred, in an all-inclusive sense, than the other.

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