Abstention in Elections with Asymmetric Information and Diverse Preferences.


Timothy Feddersen and Wolfgang Pesendorfer

June 1998

We analyze a model of a two-candidate election with costless voting in which voters have asymmetric information and diverse preferences. We demonstrate that a strictly positive fraction of the electorate will abstain and, nevertheless, elections effectively aggregate voter's private information. Using examples we show how more informed voters are more likely to vote than their less informed counterparts. However, increasing the fraction of the electorate that is informed may lead to higher levels of abstention. We conclude by showing that a biased distribution of information can lead to a biased voting population but does not lead to biased outcomes.