Public Choice

, Volume 167, Issue 3–4, pp 245–255 | Cite as

A note on majority rule and neutrality with an application to state votes at the Constitutional Convention of 1787

Article
  • 119 Downloads

Abstract

Majority rule used in the legislative process has a bias toward the status quo. This implies that proposals are less likely to pass when the number of voters casting either “yes” or “no” votes sums to an even number rather than an odd number. The implication is weakly supported by examining state votes of 552 motions made at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. A difference is found in the expected direction but is not statistically significant at traditional levels.

Keywords

Majority rule Neutrality Federal convention Status quo Anonymous culture criterion 

Notes

Acknowledgments

I thank Keith Dougherty and Nicholas Miller for their insightful comments on earlier versions of this paper.

References

  1. Aguiar-Conraria, L., & Magalhâes, P. C. (2010). How quorum rules distort referendum outcomes: Evidence from a pivotal voter model. European Journal of Political Economy, 26(4), 541–557.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Dougherty, K., Heckelman, J., Carlsen, P., & Gelman, D. (2012). A new dataset of delegate positions on all substantive roll calls at the US Constitutional Convention. Historical Methods, 45(3), 135–141.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Dougherty, K. L. (2015). Slavery and the Constitution: Why the lower south succeeded at the Constitutional Convention. Unpublished manuscript .Google Scholar
  4. Dougherty, K. L., & Heckelman, J. C. (2012). Delegate Positions on All Substantive Roll Calls at the United States Constitutional Convention, 1787. Ann Arbor, MI: Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research [distributor] ICPSR33865-v1. doi:10.3886/ICPSR33865.v1.
  5. Dougherty, K. L., & Edward, J. (2009). Odd or even: Assembly size and majority rule. The Journal of Politics, 71(2), 733–747.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Farrand, M. (1966). The records of the federal convention of 1787. Westford, MA: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  7. Gerhlein, W. V., & Lepelley, D. (2011). Voting paradoxes and group coherence. Berlin: Springer-Verlag.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Herrera, H., & Mattozzi, A. (2010). Quorum and turnout in referenda. Journal of the European Economic Association, 8(4), 838–871.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Maskin, E. (1995). Majority rule, social welfare functions, and games forms. In K. Basu, P. Pattanaik, & K. Suzumura (Eds.), Choice, welfare, and development: A festschrift in honour of Amartya K. Sen (pp. 100–109). London: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  10. May, K. O. (1952). A set of independent necessary and sufficient conditions for simple majority decision. Econometrica, 20(4), 680–684.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EconomicsWake Forest UniversityWinston-SalemUSA

Personalised recommendations