Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Voters, Come out and Play

One of the revealing stats that we're on the look out from the Miami recall is voter turnout. Historically, one of the advantages of recalls is that few people come out to vote. Unlike a regularly scheduled election, you have to be motivated and want to show up to the ballot box that day to vote on one specific election. Recall proponents have an advantage, as they have spent months garnering supporters and themselves are angry and motivated to get out. This is why special elections can be a less-than-ideal democratic solution to a vacancy in office.

In 1995, three California Assembly members faced recalls. Each of these well-publicized elections drew from 25 percent to 35 percent of registered voters, well below the turnout for a general election. Similarly, the Michigan 1983 recalls saw a much smaller electorate. This isn't always the case, as Gray Davis actually had a much higher turnout than the 2002 election. The same thing happened in a non-recall setting with the special election of Scott Brown (higher turnout than 2006)

We saw in 2008 that if a recall takes place on a primary day, the advantage may be lost. Two state legislative recalls occurred on primary days that year (Speaker Andy Dillon in Michigan and Senator Jeff Denham in California). Both recalls were easily defeated.

Let's see what happens today. An increase in turnout may be a sign of the maturation of the recall.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Post a Comment