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From the 'probably not' files

Could ballot design save the Democrats?

By Ezra Klein  | November 1, 2010; 10:45 AM ET
 
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Comments

I can't remember voting on anything but the 'office block' type ballot since probably the late 80s--and that's in three different states (MN, MA, IL).

Posted by: JJenkins2 | November 1, 2010 11:06 AM | Report abuse

I agree with the assertion that bloc-ballots might help incumbents; however, many incumbent Democrats are this year running on an "I'm not the incumbent" platform, somewhat clouding the effect of the effect.

For example, in VA-5, Perriello advertisements proclaim that "10 Years of Hurt is Enough" in an attempt to brand challenger Robert Hurt (who has served 10 years in the Virginia statehouse) as the incumbent Congressman: in advertisements, Perriello similarly states that "Hurt didn't vote to extend unemployment benefits" which, while absolutely true, results from the fact that Hurt wasn't a member of the House and therefore wasn't in a position to vote in favor of the bill. Perriello's technique is actually working: many people [particularly Democrats] now actually believe Perriello [who happens to be a Democrat] is the challenger attempting to unseat now-branded-incumbent Hurt.

So, if an incumbent is successful in convincing folks he's not really the incumbent, do ballot factors that help the incumbent help the real incumbent or the branded incumbent?

Posted by: rmgregory | November 1, 2010 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Why do Democrats always have to resort to gimmicks like ballot design, encouraging illegal residents to vote, etc, in order to win elections?

You know, you could try the time-tested method of developing better policies that don't bankrupt our country as a way to win more votes. But that's probably a lot harder to do, I suppose.....

Posted by: dbw1 | November 1, 2010 11:44 AM | Report abuse

@dbw1:
the 'gimmick' to me is that you'd ever group office seekers by party. I'm not electing a party, I'm electing people for a particular office.
.
Showing people the choices for each office only makes sense.
.
I also know that I've never seen a ballot organzied by party going back 20 years and 3 different states (NY, SC, VA). So not really sure how much difference this will actually make in reality.

Posted by: rpixley220 | November 1, 2010 12:18 PM | Report abuse

dbw1, poll taxes. That is all, thank you.

Posted by: MosBen | November 1, 2010 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I have great confidence in the ability of this year's angry electorate to seek out and destroy incumbents, no matter how the ballot is designed.

The office bloc ballot in general seems to me to require a higher degree of reading ability in order to be cast correctly, and so would tend to favor the party with a higher percentage of literate voters. :)

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