By R. Jankowski

Contributors have little incentive to vote, collect political info or give a contribution crusade money, simply because their vote has little or no likelihood of affecting the end result of an election. Jankowski bargains a proof and proof for political participation in keeping with the truth that most people are weakly altruistic.

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They start with an electorate of 1,000,000 rightists and 2,000,000 leftists. One equilibrium entails all rightist voting, and the leftists being divided into two subgroups of equal size. One subgroup of leftists votes, and one subgroup abstains. Each individual member of the group must know if they are to vote or abstain, and the number of voters in each group. Clearly, such an equilibrium requires extensive coordination which is unrealistic in an election with a voting base in the millions. Myerson (1998) shows that with population uncertainty, only the low-turnout equilibrium holds, and it requires symmetric strategies.

These randomization strategies result in the individuals of each type being exactly indifferent between voting and abstaining. There are no pure-strategy equilibria when we have population uncertainty. This value is the same as adopted by Palfrey and Rosenthal (1985) and Myerson (1998) to capture the cost-benefit ratio when only self-interest motivates the voters. To determine the equilibrium turnout levels by the two types of voters (λ and ρ) we solve for them simultaneously or set both pivot probabilities Why Vote?

For these individuals altruism is not sufficient to outweigh self-interest. Hence, altruism is a weak force in the decision calculus of individuals. It can have a major effect in areas such as voting, precisely because the costs of voting are so low. Some have argued that the inclusion of altruistic behavior creates inconsistencies in rational choice theory (Sen, 1977). Sen argues that moral obligations (such as strong duty) entail a lexicographic ordering, which undermines von Neumann-Morgenstern utility theory, and hence, expected utility analysis.

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