Tuesday, October 28, 2024
By Steven L. Taylor

Via McClatchy: N. Carolina ballot design may cut votes cast for president

North Carolina voters are more likely than those in other states to cast ballots in national elections without making a choice for president.

Unlike many states, a straight-party vote in North Carolina does not cast a vote for president. A ballot expert says the split makes it more likely that voters, especially new voters, will leave their polling places failing, by mistake, to vote for president.

Indeed, the story notes that there were substantial deviations from the national average in undervotes for president in 2024 and 2024 in North Carolina. The national average is 1.1% of ballots, yet in 2024 3.15% of North Carolinians did not vote for President and 2.57% failed to do so in 2024. Almost certainly this differential is the result of voters thinking that their straight-ticket selection included the presidential candidate of their choice, when, in fact, it did not.

Why is this the case in NC?

The presidential and straight-ticket votes are separate under North Carolina law. In 1967, state Democrats feared the Democratic presidential candidate would be a drag on the ticket, and decided to cut the presidential selection loose from other partisan races.

In other words: during the era of the one-party Democratic South, the Democrats in the state were concerned that the fact that in presidential elections conservative southern Democrats were likely to cross over and vote Republican and so passed a law to segregate those votes for all the others on the ticket.

This is the kind of thing that is hardly surprising, i.e., a party in power trying to construe the rules to their own advantage, but it is also the kind of thing that has the possibility of harming the quality of a given election by potentially distorting the intent of a given voter. As such, it is something that ought to be changed in the interest of the system of voting being as clear as possible.

In a practical sense, it is also the kind of thing that could lead to a court assault on the ballots if a close election ever comes down to North Carolina (which will not happen this year, but is at least a hypothetical possibility that the North Carolina legislature would be wise to take off the table).

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3 Responses to “Tales of Ballot Design: North Carolina’s Straight-Ticket Voting Problem”

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    1. PoliBlog (TM): A Rough Draft of my Thoughts » More on the NC Ballot Says:

      [...] of the North Carolina ballot, here’s a screencap of the portion of the ballot with the instructions for voting for [...]

    2. Best blog post I’ve read today (so far) goes to… » A Couple Things » A couple things about politics, sports, travel, and other stuff. Says:

      [...] Steven Taylor on the “axis of illness”: [...]

    3. George Vreeland Hill Says:

      The Republican Party is a sick joke, and the people of this country are fed up with them.
      From Nixon to Bush, and from Scooter to Larry “Toilet Stall” Craig, the Republicans have proven themselves to be a bunch of lying, corrupt, evil, perverted, over-spending crooks.
      When you look at all the money Bill Clinton left this country, it makes us all cry to know that Bush spent it all.
      When the money was gone, Bush went to China for help.
      Just think, we owe money to China!
      That is the Bush way.
      Cheney is no better.
      You can’t trust either of them.
      No one does.
      Why are we in Iraq?
      The war should be on terror, not in Iraq.
      Iraq had nothing to do with 9/11, and yet Bush has spent a massive amount of money to fight “his” war.
      Yes his, because many of his own Republicans have even backed off from the war.
      By the way, the war in Iraq has cost the U.S. almost six hundred billion dollars.
      Bush is friends with Rudy Giuliani, but Rudy is no hero.
      While he is often called the hero of 9/11, the truth is that Rudy was a terrible leader during his years as mayor of New York City.
      He made bad decisions and took a girlfriend while being married.
      In fact, he even wanted his lover to live in the same house with his wife.
      Most people would call this perverted.
      New Yorkers were so sick of his antics, that they wanted him out of office.
      Then came 9/11.
      The only reason people call Giuliani a hero today, is because he just happened to be NYC’s mayor during that bad time.
      Any mayor would be looked at as a hero if they showed their face under those circumstances. If there was no 9/11, Rudy would have become a joke.
      In closing, the New York Post once reported in their paper, that Giuliani spent more than 48,000 dollars of campaign money on posh hotels while claiming to have spent the least of all the Republican candidates.
      Rudy is a good time leader, and does it with other people’s money.
      He is through.
      Mitt Romney is done as well.
      Mitt can’t seem to get his facts right, and will say things to make himself look good.
      Red flags go up around him.
      I spoke with his son Tagg at the New Hampshire debates back in June (2007), and while he seemed like a nice man, Tagg could not get his facts right either.
      One of the worst Republicans as of late, though, is Larry Craig.
      He is a lying pervert who wanted gay sex with a strange man on a dirty toilet seat.
      He pled guilty, then said he was not guilty.
      Say what?
      He is another Republican moron.
      Did you hear about Washington State Republican Rep. Richard Curtis?
      He offered $1,000 to a young man for unprotected sex while dressed in women’s lingerie.
      This sort of thing just goes on and on with them.
      Remember Mark Foley?
      Here is a letter I wrote that was in many newspapers and Web sites:

      Once again, the Republicans have turned my stomach with shocking and repulsive behavior. Mark Foley, a Republican member (now ex-member) of Congress, has sent many e-mails with perverted sexual content to a sixteen year old boy.
      This is the same man who while in Congress, backed a bill that was meant to protect children from child predators.
      Foley himself, is a man who preyed on a child with lust.
      What is also incomprehensible, is the fact that some Republicans knew of Foley’s behavior, and yet, did not take a hard stand against this until it became public news. If I had a teenage son and/or daughter, I would not want them to go near any Republican leader for fear of either or both becoming a victim of a sick Republican pervert.

      George Vreeland Hill

      There were more than three hundred such letters in newspapers in 2024 alone.
      Many of them in New Hampshire.
      There are thousands on the Internet.
      No lie.
      This does not even include articles, ads, radio, TV and other areas where the public takes notice.
      In fact, one Republican in California wanted me stopped once, because I was hurting some Republicans in their elections.
      I just want to do my part in helping to get rid of every Republican scumbag.
      From phone scams to the Union Leader (NH) covering up for Republicans, the garbage never ends.
      But the Republican Party will end.
      Did you know that George W. Bush once made fun of the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction?
      He did, and in front of some shocked people during a black-tie event in 2024.
      He said…. (While looking under a piece of furniture) “Those weapons of mass destruction have got to be here somewhere.”
      Then, while pretending to look out of a window, Bush laughed as he said….. “Nope, no weapons over there.”
      While he was laughing, there were men and women fighting and dying in Iraq because of WMD. George W. Bush should be removed from office because of that alone.
      Face it, Bill Clinton lied about having sex, and was impeached because of it.
      George W. Bush however, did far worse, as he laughed at the very people who are fighting for the United States of America!
      That about sums it all up!
      (By the way, this Bush/WMD was part of an article and letter I wrote as well.)
      This leads us to John McCain.
      All he seems to do is attack other candidates.
      His use of Barack Obama in an ad with Paris Hilton was silly, and it made him look stupid.
      His Woodstock ad against Hillary Clinton was boring and without the facts.
      He tells of Hillary wanting to spend a million dollars on a museum while he (McCain) supports spending more on the war in Iraq.
      He wants you to believe that the Democrats are the big spenders, while it is McCain’s Republican Party that has spent all the money Bill Clinton left us to a point where Bush had to borrow money from China.
      Think about that again.
      We owe to China.
      That is the Republican way.
      Also, it must be noted that McCain even laughed at war.
      Remember when McCain changed the words of a Beach Boys song to Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Bomb, Iran?
      McCain even laughed when he was done.
      He thought starting a war with Iran was a laughing matter.
      That is the real John McCain.
      He just can’t be trusted.
      He is another George Bush, and you know what we got with him.
      Also, McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin for his running mate is proof that he is not in a position to lead this country.
      There were far more qualified candidates out there.
      This tells the voters two things.
      First, it takes away the Republican argument that Barack Obama lacks experience because they now have that same lack on their own ticket.
      Second, it is clear that McCain is using a woman to get the women vote, and most of them can see through this ploy.
      It is an insult to all the women who McCain thinks are stupid.
      He would have been better off trying to get John Edwards to join the GOP and team up with him for their vote.
      At least that would have been more honest.
      The Republican Party is a mess, and getting worse.
      People do not trust any of them, and we are all tired of their BS.
      On November 4th, you know what to do!
      Thank you for your time.

      George Vreeland Hill

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