The downsides of information transmission and voting


I analyze a model of information transmission in collective choice environments. An Expert possesses private information about the consequences of passing an exogenous proposal and engages in cheap talk to persuade voters to pass or reject the proposal. The Expert may successfully persuade the voters to take her preferred action even when all or most voters would receive a better ex ante payoff with no information transmission. I consider several remedies that an institutional designer may consider in order to avoid this problem while allowing information transmission that benefits the voters. I evaluate the effects of (1) limiting Expert communication to binary endorsements, (2) encouraging competition between Experts, and (3) restricting the agenda in order to consider only one dimension at a time. None of these proposals completely eliminate negative persuasion outcomes, but limiting the Expert to binary endorsements avoids the worst manipulation while preserving beneficial information transmission.

In Public Choice