Theory and Decision

, Volume 77, Issue 1, pp 111-124

First online:

The potential of iterative voting to solve the separability problem in referendum elections

  • Clark BowmanAffiliated withDivision of Applied Mathematics, Brown University
  • , Jonathan K. HodgeAffiliated withDepartment of Mathematics, Grand Valley State University Email author 
  • , Ada YuAffiliated withMarian University College of Osteopathic Medicine

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In referendum elections, voters are often required to register simultaneous votes on multiple proposals. The separability problem occurs when a voter’s preferred outcome on one proposal depends on the outcomes of other proposals. This type of interdependence can lead to unsatisfactory or even paradoxical election outcomes, such as a winning outcome that is the last choice of every voter. Here we propose an iterative voting scheme that allows voters to revise their voting strategies based on the outcomes of previous iterations. Using a robust computer simulation, we investigate the potential of this approach to solve the separability problem.


Referendum elections Separability Iterative voting Computer simulation Game theory Learning