Mehmet Ekmekci, Boston College
We study information transmission through informal elections: Informed agents send binary messages to a receiver who chooses a policy. Our leading example is protests in which there may be positive costs or benefits of participation. The aggregate turnout provides information to a policy maker. However, the presence of activists who obtain direct benefits from participation adds noise to the turnout. The interplay between noise and participation costs leads to strategic substitution and complementarity effects in citizens’ participation choices, and we characterize the implications for the informativeness of protests.