Rank, Pack, or Approve: Voting Methods in Participatory Budgeting


  • Lodewijk Gelauff Stanford University
  • Ashish Goel Stanford University




Participatory budgeting is a popular method to engage residents in budgeting decisions by local governments. The AnonPB Platform is an online platform that has been used to engage residents in more than 150 budgeting processes. We present a data set with anonymized budget opinions from these processes with K-approval, K-ranking or knapsack primary ballots. For a subset of the voters, it includes paired votes with a different elicitation method in the same process. This presents a unique data set, as the voters, projects and setting are all related to real-world decisions that the voters have an actual interest in. With data from primary ballots we find that while ballot complexity (number of projects to choose from, number of projects to select and ballot length) is correlated with a higher median time spent by voters, it is not correlated with a higher abandonment rate. We use vote pairs with different voting methods to analyze the effect of voting methods on the cost of selected projects, more comprehensively than was previously possible. In most elections, voters selected significantly more expensive projects using K-approval than using knapsack, although we also find a small number of examples with a significant effect in the opposite direction. This effect happens at the aggregate level as well as for individual voters, and is influenced both by the implicit constraints of the voting method and the explicit constraints of the voting interface. Finally, we validate the use of K-ranking elicitation to offer a paper alternative for knapsack voting.




How to Cite

Gelauff, L., & Goel, A. (2024). Rank, Pack, or Approve: Voting Methods in Participatory Budgeting. Proceedings of the International AAAI Conference on Web and Social Media, 18(1), 448-461. https://doi.org/10.1609/icwsm.v18i1.31326