PEW: Alessandra Casella

Date
Feb 28, 2022, 4:15 pm4:15 pm
Location
127 Corwin
Speaker
Event Description

Liquid Democracy. Two Experiments: Under Liquid Democracy (LD), decisions are taken by referendum, but voters are allowed to delegate their votes to other voters. LD has been heralded as the golden medium between direct and representative democracy: better than the former because experts can be delegated votes and thus weigh more; better than the latter because different experts can be chosen for each decision, according to their specific competences. When experts are correctly identified, LD shifts voting weight from a larger number of less informed voters towards fewer better-informed voters. Theory shows that the outcome can be superior to simple majority voting. However, by reducing the number of voters, delegation reduces the variety of independent information sources. Optimal delegation is counter-intuitively rare. We report the results of a lab experiment where by design experts are correctly identified and yet systematic over-delegation leads to LD underperforming relative to simple majority. A second experiment will be run on a large electorate online with a different design. The experiment exploits a perceptual task, making it possible for some information to be worse than random and reducing the precision of information about one's own and others' accuracy. We hypothesize that in such an environment, closer to the confused conditions in which political decisions are made, LD may perform better, relative to majority voting.