And Now an Answer to My Question About Voter Drop-Off
At a panel, sponsored by SLU law school, that I sat on before the election, I addressed a quesion to the audience for which I did not know the answer. The basic question involved how the ending of straight-ticket voting might combine with the extremely high turnout for last month’s election to affect whether some voters skip lower races on the ballot. The conventional wisdom was that the elimination of straight-ticket voting would lead to greater voter drop-off, but I wondered whether the high turnout, and resulting long lines, would increase or decrease that effect. In other words, would somebody who just waited in a long line, and had in the past voted straight ticket, now simply punch the top item and leave? Or would the long wait make them more likely to complete the entire ballot? “I waited two hours to vote, so I might as well fill out the whole ballot,” they might reason.
Well, the numbers and analysis are in, and the former hypothesis appears to have been the case. The Associated Press has a great story in the Columbia Daily Tribune about the numbers and counts. According to the story:
More than 2.9 million people in Missouri voted for president – nearly 200,000 more than in 2004. But compared with four years ago, tens of thousands more voters trailed off, skipping races for the state Legislature and even for governor.
So, in the end, more people came out and more people just voted for the top race and skipped off. I can’t fathom doing that, myself, but what do I know? Governor? Some people could not bother to go down one space further and even vote for governor? I mean, I can at least understand skipping the judges, but governor?