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The Timing of Elections Matters (Ferguson Edition)

election-voter-peopleBrian Schaffner, Wouter Van Erve and Ray LaRaja writing at  The Monkey Cage note the following:

The conflict in Ferguson, Mo., has captured the nation’s attention and once again put race front and center in American politics. This piece, for instance, notes that while Ferguson is 67 percent black, five of the six council members and the mayor are all white. Why this disparity? There are two culprits: the timing of municipal elections and the nature of the ballot in these elections.

1.  Timing of elections:

Ferguson holds municipal elections in April of odd-numbered years. In doing so, the town is hardly unique. Approximately three-fourths of American municipalities hold their elections in odd years, a Progressive-era reform intended to shield municipal elections from the partisan politics of national contests, but one that has been shown to have a dramatic effect on reducing turnout.

2.  Nature of the ballot:

Ferguson also holds nonpartisan elections (where party labels do not appear on the ballot), another Progressive reform, and one that has been shown to reduce both what citizens know about candidates as well as their likelihood of voting. These consequences are worse for people with less education and less income.

The results on turnout are quite dramatic:

 

 

More at the link (and some links to follow from there, if one is interested).

Now, some will no doubt say that it is the fault of voters for not showing up at the appointed time, and that is all well and good.  However, the bottom line is this:  design choices matter and if the goal of elections is to actually elect representative bodies then issues such as timing and ballot structure should be examined and reformed in a way that better conforms to actual human behavior.  Further, situations like the one we are seeing in Ferguson would be less likely to happen with more representative local government.

Related Posts:

About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor and Chair of Political Science at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. He is the author of Voting Amid Violence: Electoral Democracy in Colombia and is currently working on a comparative study of the US to 29 other democracies. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging at PoliBlog since 2003. Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Eric Florack says:

    So, why are we concerned about a racial disparity?
    Are we saying that the black residents of Ferguson should only vote for Black people?
    Gee, sounds racist, doesn’t it?

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 36

  2. mantis says:

    @Eric Florack:

    Gee, sounds racist, doesn’t it?

    You do, yes. Often. Stupid too.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 33 Thumb down 4

  3. Andre Kenji says:

    The point is not racial disparity, but representation. The underrepresentation of people from poor areas(Either White or Black) is a major problem, and that´s my problem with political representation in Brazil(Where there is proportional representation, and where there are very few Legislators coming from poor areas).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  4. superdestroyer says:

    I find it humorous that Dr Taylor, after making many comments that race does not control elections, now makes a post that says that race is the overriding factor in municipal elections.

    Of course, in the future, blacks in Ferguson will be motivated to vote in municipal elections and that blacks will soon dominate politics in the town. But I would wager that no one will speculate on what will happen to the town when blacks gain control of local government.

    However, it look like it will be harder to affect school elections due to Ferguson being in a school district with another town.

    http://ballotpedia.org/Ferguson-Florissant_School_District_elections_(2014)

    I see that the school board elections resemble what has been proposed in the past to help elect more blacks but that it did not seem to have worked.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 21

  5. @superdestroyer: The problem is, as always, you do not understand anything other than race.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 28 Thumb down 2

  6. I am , of course, shocked that two of the first comments on this thread are by two of the most notoriously racist members of the local commentariat.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 31 Thumb down 4

  7. But, out of occupational hazard, I will try a brief teaching moment: unrepresentative local government leads to unrepresentative police force (as well as poor local governmental response to a crisis). These things matter.

    Note, too, that “representative” is more than skin color, despite the hypotheses of some of the above commentators.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 29 Thumb down 2

  8. Matt Bernius says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    The point is not racial disparity, but representation.

    And to that, and Steven’s point, the two graphs that show the radically difference in local participation between the national elections (held in November) and the local elections (held in April) speak to that issue.

    Anyone who believes in the notion of representative democracy and the importance of civic participation should note that radical difference and ask whose interests are being served by holding local elections on a day other than the national election day.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  9. Eric Florack says:

    @mantis: Still trying for that witty comeback, are we?
    Or are you projecting?

    @superdestroyer:

    I find it humorous that Dr Taylor, after making many comments that race does not control elections, now makes a post that says that race is the overriding factor in municipal elections.

    I dunno as “humor” enters into it. Expected would fit better.
    Taylors is a racist assumption and since the entire post is based on that assumption, Taylor is making a totally racist argument. Think of it this way… if we made the assumption that whites only vote for whites, what would that be called? (Beyond being factually incorrect, given the current occupants in the WH, of course)

    What’s happening here, is an attempt by Taylor (and others of the left, of course) to take the focus off Brown, and place it on the local government there, which the current liberal narrative has labeled as a bunch of racist whites. The narrative of the Brown thing has blown up in their faces, so now we get treated to the obligatory “Yeah, well, you’re all a bunch of racists” and similar statements, all of which can be found in lesser quantities on any stable floor.

    Poorly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 23

  10. Eric Florack says:

    @Andre Kenji: So your argument is to be that only people of a particular race, can represent people of that race?

    Gee. How’d we get Obama?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  11. @Eric Florack:

    What’s happening here, is an attempt by Taylor (and others of the left, of course) to take the focus off Brown, and place it on the local government there

    Let’s see: the worst thing that Brown did, if we take the worst possible version of the story is a) he stole some cigars, he wrestled with a police officer, and he turned to charge the officer after starting to run away.

    The worst things that local government have done is: shoot the young man 6 times, detained several reporters while they were doing their jobs, among other things. The overall escalation of this situation is very much on the heads of local government.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 32 Thumb down 2

  12. On the representation/elections side of things, I would also note the precipitous decline in overall voter participation (as well as of the white turnout). Anyone who would argue that local elections with that kind of turnout is producing appropriately representative government doesn’t understand the meaning of the term.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 1

  13. argon says:

    I agree about the problems of odd-year elections. It doesn’t make much fiscal sense either.

    Some pedantic points however, about the stats displayed. I would like to see the breakdown for earlier elections, going back to at least 2000. 2008 and 2012 showed a 6% increase in black turnout nationally, finally exceeding white turnout in 2012. While I certainly hope that’s the new norm, Obama’s candidacy certainly played a role in the last two Presidential elections. A better comparison might be the 2010 and coming 2014 Congressional elections which are off-peak periods.

    Still, one wonders why the Ferguson town authorities are so disproportionately white, given that the state and Congressional House representatives are black.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  14. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So your argument is to be that only people of a particular race, can represent people of that race?

    Gee. How’d we get Obama?

    No, his argument is that any election where the only participants are an extreme subset of a population (as the graphs show the April elections to be) results is a leadership that is not representative of a given population.

    Which, btw, is what you continually seem to be saying every time you claim that (a) the majority of america is really conservative and (b) *chooses* not to vote. The net result, as you continually remind, is that Obama and most of the Federal leadership doesn’t represent your “real” America.

    Ferguson, is your argument, only even more disproportionate considering that in 2008 and 2012 approximately 57% of the American public participated in the presidential election (see data in links in next comment).

    Further, with Fergusonm the charts make it clear that by holding the local elections in on Election Day, versus in April, there would most likely be a radically higher level of participation at very little additional cost.*

    Which again lead to the question: why continue to hold local elections on a date other than election day, unless the goal has become to ensure a lower level of civic participation?

    * – Most likely there would be a net decrease in cost as they would only have to pay for a single election rather than stand up a separate election.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  15. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would also note the precipitous decline in overall voter participation (as well as of the white turnout).

    Provided we are talking about voter participation as a percentage of overall voting population.

    In sheer number, at least in national presidential elections, the overall number of voters participating still is increasing (last time I check). However that increase in number of votes is not keeping pace with the population.
    Total Popular Vote Since 1940 for Presidential Elections: http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/elections/common/pop_vote.html
    Voter Turnout Percentages:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_presidential_elections_by_popular_vote_margin

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  16. Tillman says:

    @Eric Florack: @superdestroyer: Did you guys miss how the first chart showed the precipitous decline in turnout among both racial groups due to municipal elections being on odd years?

    But no, he was making a racist point, sure.

    Highly-rated. Helpful or Unhelpful: Thumb up 16 Thumb down 0

  17. @Matt Bernius: I was referring to Ferguson int he two elections (55% to 17%).

    Really, it is striking that folks like sd and EF can only see the racial component while ignoring the severe difference in general citizen participation of the two elections. Striking, but not surprising.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  18. Eric Florack says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    No, his argument is that any election where the only participants are an extreme subset of a population (as the graphs show the April elections to be) results is a leadership that is not representative of a given population.

    So, again the question… how did we get Obama, whose 10% certainly qualifies as the subset you cite? Is that really to be your argument? And by logical extension are you not really suggesting that with Obama as POTUS, 90% of America is not represented? Or does that equation only go one way?

    @Steven L. Taylor: Aha. So, this IS all about Brown.

    Well, the facts aren’t running in your favor. First the cop sustained fairly serious facial injuries from brown. And look closely at the pics of Brown post shooting in the street. He’s face down. Notice any blood on his very white shirt? No? That’s because he wasn’t shot in the back while running away. He was shot in the front, 6 times… facing the officer. This is a point the autopsy confirms.

    Care to try again?

    @Tillman: ah, but you see, I didn’t miss it. What have I been saying for years about voter turnout? The drop off is precisely in line with what I’ve been saying all along. The overall numbers are up as a function of population increases, but the percentage is dropping. I told you why, too.

    And has anyone noticed what the party makeup of the board is?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 16

  19. @Eric Florack: You aren’t even treading what I am writing: ” he turned to charge the officer after starting to run away.”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  20. superdestroyer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Dr Taylor, I am just agreeing with your post today. The largest demographic group in Ferguson should dominate politics and should be voting along racial/ethnic lines so that it can control political power. Do I really need to point to all of the opinion pieces on why the days of a majority white city council, majority white police force in Ferguson are over and that whites in the future will have no say in politics, law enforcement, or the culture of the city. What is left implied but unwritten in the idea that whites will begin to move out of ferguson and it will soon be a town that is close to 100% non-white.

    I just found it humorous that so many people who claimed that demographics do not really affect elections are now writing that the Town of Ferguson is bad because the results of the local elections or the work force of the town do not line up with the demographics of the town.

    Of course, what no one is going to do near it to speculate on what happens to ferguson in the future. The closest anyone will get is to speculate the property values will be going down in the future.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 11

  21. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    So, again the question… how did we get Obama, whose 10% certainly qualifies as the subset you cite? Is that really to be your argument? And by logical extension are you not really suggesting that with Obama as POTUS, 90% of America is not represented?

    What the heck does this word salad even mean?! In what strange reality did Obama get 10% of the vote in either election? Actual statistics would help on this.

    Seriously, this doesn’t make any sense. Either that or it demonstrates a fundamental inability to parse data and a complete lack of understanding of the basics concepts of modern democratic civics. Probably both.

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  22. Scott says:

    I think there has been a lot of structural impediments to voting as well as certain societal trends that either hinder voters or prevent potential voters from participating in local elections.

    1) Rise of on-line content and the decline of local newpapers. Many people are becoming increasing disconnected from local politics and just view the state or national elections as important.

    2) Change in working life. For many people, it is no longer a 9-5 working world; it is a 24/7 working world. You have to fit voting in your schedule. Early voting has help that but moving election day to the weekend would be a plus.

    3) Municipal and local elections are often held not just in off years but in months like May. In those elections, participation is way down.

    I think we need to restructure the scaffolding of our politics to strenghten our democracy. Unfortunately, the incentive of our politicians is to just the opposite.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 0

  23. Andre Kenji says:

    @Eric Florack: @Eric Florack:

    So your argument is to be that only people of a particular race, can represent people of that race?

    No. I´m pointing out to representation, not race. But in many senses race IS social class, and in the United States race also has a strong geographic element on it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  24. stonetools says:

    Well, the one good thing about this mess is that a very big spotlight will be focused in Ferguson’s next elections. I expect turnout will be high.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  25. gVOR08 says:

    @Eric Florack: I agree with @Matt Bernius: about word salad. But perhaps I can get at your argument by pointing out that I participated, that I voted for Obama twice (Hilary in the primary because I was afraid of what the Rs would do with race were Obama elected, and rightly so as it turned out), and that I am being well represented by Obama. I am of Norwegian descent and about as white as you can get. Odds are Obama also represents your real interests far better than McCain or Romney would have.

    I’ll mention something else, although I suspect you won’t believe me – when I see Obama on TV or a photo, “he’s black” is far from the first thing that crosses my mind.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 1

  26. PJ says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    What the heck does this word salad even mean?! In what strange reality did Obama get 10% of the vote in either election? Actual statistics would help on this.

    Seriously, this doesn’t make any sense. Either that or it demonstrates a fundamental inability to parse data and a complete lack of understanding of the basics concepts of modern democratic civics. Probably both.

    That online course that bithead took to learn how to write like Sarah Palin has really paid off!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 6 Thumb down 1

  27. Gavrilo says:

    Newsflash: If only white people run for office, only white people will be elected. Is there any evidence that candidates who are more representative of the population in Ferguson, i.e. black, are being defeated by white candidates due to the fact that elections are non-partisan and held in April? Could it be that Ferguson is represented by white people because only whites are the only ones running for office?

    Second, although it is always better to have higher voter turnout and I agree that the timing and nature of the election contribute to the low turnout, it is not axiomatic that low turnout = bad representation. The downside of having municipal elections in November is that the farther down the ballot you go, the less people pay attention. Turnout might be better, but you might actually have fewer people making an informed decision on the candidates rather than voting party affiliation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  28. Eric Florack says:

    @Matt Bernius: so, I’ve gotta use smaller words?
    He says black people can’t be properly represented by white people.
    So, since only 10% or so of the population is black, is 90% of the country not represented by a black POTUS?

    There… you up to speed now?@Steven L. Taylor: To the contrary, I did read it. The established facts do not fit with your claim

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 11

  29. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    He says black people can’t be properly represented by white people.

    STEVEN. NEVER. SAID. THAT.
    I. NEVER. SAID. THAT.

    The only way you get to that is your own bigoted reading into the post and our misguided attempts to engage you in intelligent conversation.

    Christ almighty, you are a miserable human being.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 2

  30. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    First.

    Don’t engage bithead. The man can barely string together a sentence, and used to post on Stormfront. He’s not a good person, intellectually or morally.

    Second…personal attacks. I know its hard with Bithead, but you’ve gotta hold your head up high, or else everyone (including me) will follow your example. We’ve had a good run here recently of having engaging, thoughtful discussions on the comment boards. If Super and Bithead are trying to derail a conversation, just stop engaging. They aren’t worth it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  31. Tyrell says:

    Most of the candidates for our county elected offices go unopposed. So you wind up with the same people in there year after year. Almost totally Democrat and the last Republican got elected in Reconstruction. A lot of the local elections are non-partison (sidewalk supervisor, dog catcher, register of deeds).
    There would have to be more information about the Ferguson elections: maybe blacks are not running. Then you have to come up with reasons why they don’t run and how to recruit more candidates.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  32. Matt Bernius says:

    @Neil Hudelson:
    I agree on most of your points. However, I disagree on the following:

    Second…personal attacks.

    That wasn’t a personal attack. I contend that based on his behavior here and in other threads, its clearly a statement of fact.

    That said, it’s a fact that really can go without saying. But given the number of times I’ve controlled myself from saying that, I have no issue stating it now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  33. Matt Bernius says:

    @Gavrilo:

    If only white people run for office, only white people will be elected.

    Fair point. Unfortunately we don’t have data on the racial make-up of past candidates in recent elections. So I’m not sure that we can say that is necessarily the case here.

    Turnout might be better, but you might actually have fewer people making an informed decision on the candidates rather than voting party affiliation.

    I personally don’t find this a particularly compelling argument. I have to question the amount of “informed” decision that goes into any election once you get beyond the first two lines. And even there, I’m not entirely sure how much information versus party affiliation comes into play.

    On this topic I’m a bit of an idealist, I tend to think that broader participation — even if its less informed (and doesn’t go my way) — is preferable to limited, elite participation.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  34. anjin-san says:

    @ Florack

    Still trying for that witty comeback, are we?

    Stealing my lines again, are we?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 1

  35. humanoid.panda says:

    @Eric Florack: I showed that your arguments about voter turnout are wrong using information from the US census in a thread about a month ago. You totally ignored what I wrote only to repeat your nonsense now. I wonder what is your problem: cowardice, dishonesty, lack of reading comprehension skills, short term memory loss, all of the above?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  36. Barry says:

    @argon: “Still, one wonders why the Ferguson town authorities are so disproportionately white, given that the state and Congressional House representatives are black.”

    They’ve spent a lot of effort on that, I’ll bet. And I would also bet that black candidates and their more prominent supporters get, ah – extra attention from the police.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  37. Barry says:

    @Eric Florack: “..so, I’ve gotta use smaller words?”

    No, logic and grammar.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  38. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @stonetools: Listening to NPR they had a guy on who was doing voter registration.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  39. Gavrilo says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Fair point. Unfortunately we don’t have data on the racial make-up of past candidates in recent elections. So I’m not sure that we can say that is necessarily the case here.

    Yeah, it wasn’t that hard to look up. In the three most recent municipal elections in Ferguson, there were only two black candidates. One of them won and is currently the only black member of the council. The other one had been elected as a write-in candidate in 2007 after no one filed to run. He ran unopposed in 2009 and was defeated in a three-way race in 2011. All of the other white council members defeated white opponents in their elections or ran unopposed. The current mayor was elected in 2011 when he defeated two other white candidates and was reelected without opposition in April.

    So, I’m pretty sure we can say that the reason why City of Ferguson is governed by white people is because white people are the ones running for office.

    What I really found interesting in researching this is that Taylor’s thesis is all over the lefty blogosphere. I saw similar stories on Think Progress, Daily Kos , Slate . Yet, none of them actually looked at who has been running for office in Ferguson. They all instantly looked to blame some institutional problem rather than looking at the most basic, logical reason.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  40. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Eric Florack:

    First the cop sustained fairly serious facial injuries from brown.

    He didn’t even have a broken nose. Mine has been broken twice and neither time was even that serious. Really, where do you pull this sh!t from? FOX? You should know better by now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 1

  41. Matt Bernius says:

    @Gavrilo:
    Thanks for doing the research. It definitely calls into question part of the “hook” of the article that Steven referenced (it’s unfortunate that none of the commenters on that article opted to raise this issue).

    I think the broader issue of reduced civic participation based on the timing of the elections still stands. Especially if one holds that increased participation is critical to a representative democracy regardless of the skin colors involved.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  42. @Matt Bernius: I would note that I am not suggesting, nor is the piece I cited meant to infer, that changes in turnout would automatically result in black members of government.

    The point, which despite @Gavrilo‘s concern about “the lefty blogosphere” is that those kinds of turnout numbers are clearly influence the representativeness of the city council insofar as clearly a specific set of voters are dominating the process. This is an empirical, not ideological or partisan observation.

    By the same token it is worth nothing that turnout patterns (and victory patterns) would also influence choices of who would run and who would not.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 2

  43. @Gavrilo:

    What I really found interesting in researching this is that Taylor’s thesis is all over the lefty blogosphere. I saw similar stories on Think Progress, Daily Kos , Slate . Yet, none of them actually looked at who has been running for office in Ferguson. They all instantly looked to blame some institutional problem rather than looking at the most basic, logical reason.

    To reiterate and to be specific: the issue of the post is not who is running, the issues of the post is how electoral calendars influence turnout and how turnout, in turn, influences results. It is well established that when elections are held matters (as well as the issue of ballot structure).

    To reduce this observation to a partisan point is demonstrate lack of understanding about the point being made.

    Further, as I noted in the previous comment, the turnout issue as linked to its influence on results could, in turn, influence who runs. As such, demonstrating that white candidates are more likely to run in elections in which white voters are more likely to vote actually underscores the point that I was making in the first place.

    The structure of elections (calendar, electoral rules, ballot structure, etc.) are, in fact among the “most basic, logical reason[s]” behind who choose to run and who is likely to win.

    (Clearly the dynamics are more complicated that one might expect to have elucidated in a brief blog comment, but you really do have the likely basic causality totally out of order).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  44. You know, I am tired and likely a bit grumpy, but it is stunning to me that there are those who can only see partisanship (or race) and are missing some dramatic numbers: 54% black turnout down to 6% and white turnout from 55% to 17%–mostly because of what day the election is held (there are other variables as well, of course). Further, by having the different day for the election the system effectively creates different electorates for the same population.

    How anyone can look at that and not at least pause and think about the impact on the quality of representation is beyond me (unless, of course, those looking don’t actually care about such things). If one of the key purposes for elections to attempt to represent the interests of constituents in office then these things should matter.

    (But i guess that that is just a “lefty” sentiment).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  45. munchbox says:

    @Steven why don’t you show black turn out for elections prior to obama? My guess is it won’t fit your narrative.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  46. @munchbox: Yes, it would. While it is highly likely that black turnout in Ferguson was higher in the 2008 and 2012 general elections than they were in the 2000 and 2004 generals, they would still be considerably higher than the corresponding municipals elections.

    1, It is almost universally the case (I say “almost” only insofar as there is probably some weird outlier somewhere ) that municipal election turnout is radically lower than general elections turnout (especially when compared to a presidential election)/

    2. There is a control group in the data as presented (again: white turnout dropped dramatically as well, as we would expect).

    There is no getting around the fact that the electoral calendar matters. This is not a “narrative” this is a fact based on decades upon decades of observations across thousands upon thousands of examples.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 0

  47. Tyrell says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I have looked at and noticed turnout in off years for these type of elections, both locally and at some of the larger cities. The numbers are very low. I know a man who has worked at the polling place for years. He gets paid the same whether three people show up or three hundred. Often candidates have no opponent. In many cases it is just a formality, especially when you are looking at such high importance offices as dog catcher, solicitor (what do they solicit?), safety commissioner (in a town of 427 people), register of deeds, comptroller. It has been this a long time. It wil continue this way a long time.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  48. Another Mike says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    You seem to be deploring personal attacks while at the same time participating in a rather vicious personal attack.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 3

  49. Another Mike says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    If one of the key purposes for elections to attempt to represent the interests of constituents in office then these things should matter.

    A person might contend that there was 100% representation in that municipal election. Those who did not vote made a choice. The choice was to allow the 23% who voted to decide who the representatives would be.

    I do not believe the political parties care about representation in the abstract. The parties are only interested in maximizing the turnout of those who will vote for them and minimizing the turnout of those who would vote for their opponent. A handful of people voting would be just fine, as long it was the right handful.

    If municipal government is doing its job well, why should the citizens care what percentage of the voters elected them? Are you saying that the blacks in Ferguson are underrepresented in city government, and that works to their detriment? Would the town be doing better today regarding the Brown situation, if blacks were better represented in the police and in city government?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  50. @Tyrell:

    It has been this a long time. It wil continue this way a long time.

    Yes, but that is rather the point (and part of the evidence of the general thesis here): it has, in fact, been that way for a long time, because of the electoral calendar. If we had local elections the same day as presidential ones, for example, turnout for those local elections would be radically higher.

    This is both a hideously simplistic point, but also one that appears to be lost on some of the readers…

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  51. @Another Mike: If we know a basic fact, and that basic fact is that participation in elections can be heavily influences by the date of that election, then that is a factor that should be taken into consideration when setting the date. This is especially true if the timing of the election creates specific skews in the electorate.

    Yes, everyone should go to the polls no matter what, but human behavior doesn’t work that way. There is always a difference between the ideal best and the practical best.

    In regards to this:

    If municipal government is doing its job well, why should the citizens care what percentage of the voters elected them?

    Um, have you heard of little place called Ferguson, MO? (Yes, I know you mention it in the next sentence, but I am sure who you can type “If municipal government is doing its job well” in this context).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  52. “There’s not a racial divide in the city of Ferguson”—Mayor James Knowles

    Call me crazy, but there might be a bit of a disconnect between the elected local government and the citizens of Ferguson.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 0

  53. Tyrell says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Thanks for your reply. As far as having local elections on the same day as national elections, it will never happen, of course. Even though it could save a lot of money.
    People now complain all the time that the national ballot is too long and takes too much time. If the elections were combined, a lot would just rush through, or not vote. They rush through now.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  54. @Tyrell: I agree that it is highly unlikely to happen, but as I often note: there is a difference between talking about what will or will not happen and why or why not something works as it does.

    (And yes, our ballots are too long, but that is another discussion for another day, no doubt).

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  55. Put another way: nothing will change if don’t at first at least understand what we are dealing with in the first place.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  56. Eric Florack says:
  57. Eric Florack says:

    @Gavrilo: excellent.

    @Steven L. Taylor: So its the racist government, not the citizenry falling down on THEIR job? Lest we forget that goes both ways, unless we wanna give government total control.

    Oh, wait. Never mind. Almost forgot.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  58. @Eric Florack: All of this interchange has reminded me is that engaging you is pointless. Not only do you have more than problematic views on race, you are a dishonest interlocutor who responds not to what is said, but to some strange version of what was said that only you seem to hear.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 9 Thumb down 0

  59. Eric Florack says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: actually, the local press. Local meaning St Louis, MO.

    Oh, and just now, the NY Post… the only real news outlet left in NYC.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 4

  60. Eric Florack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Pointless being that you’re unable to convince of of your position?

    And, how was anything I’ve said in this thread not directly responsive? You’re being called out, here, Dr Taylor.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 7

  61. Eric Florack says:

    Oh… and problematic views on race, say you? Like what, for example?
    You mean like I expect equality to MEAN equality?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 4

  62. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: That’s strange, it didn’t surprise me at all.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  63. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Matt Bernius: That Eric Florak is a miserable human being may be a fact, but he will conceptualize it as a personal attack, so it was probably better left unsaid as Neil suggested.

    Context is everything. Words, not so much.

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  64. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    How anyone can look at that and not at least pause and think about the impact on the quality of representation is beyond me (unless, of course, those looking don’t actually care about such things).

    Ding, Ding, Ding! We have a winner. People are finessing beyond and away from your thesis–which I would note is a very interesting discussion of a phenomenon–because it doesn’t fit their ideological agendas. Look at who’s responding–sd, EF, and Gavrillo, the three mouseketeers of ideological purity and impartiality.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  65. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Another Mike:

    Yeah, but I’m an asshole. I hold Matt in much higher regard.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 0

  66. Eric Florack says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: I suppose you’d have to know me to answer that question. But its been clear for years that to the left a miserable human being is someone who thinks leftists are full of crap and argues as such with some degree of force.

    They tend to take it personally. But I tend to value truth.

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  67. Eric Florack says:

    @Neil Hudelson: (grin)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 1

  68. Grewgills says:

    @Gavrilo:
    The problem being commented on isn’t so much that there aren’t more African Americans in the Ferguson government, it’s that the government is not representative (by choice of voters, not skin color) of the population, because of the type of turn out we see in their off year local elections. It is a bit ironic that the people accusing Dr Taylor of making a racial argument are the ones making the racial arguments.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  69. Eric Florack says:

    @Neil Hudelson: So, when facts show up, run.
    Is that it?

    Here’s a clue… you don’t need someone to agree with your position to have a good discussion.
    For example… I disagree with Taylor on this point because the basis of his argument is a racist one, though I grant, unintentionally so, perhaps..

    Understand…I call it that because it assumes that a disparity of racial makeup between the representitive(s) and the represented is a problem. Others in this thread have called it a “representation” issue. So, only blacks can represent blacks? Whites can only represent whites, by the same token? Do you not see the inherent problems in that? And by those lights, how in the world did we end up with Obama as POTUS? Since Blacks make up only 10% of the population, does that mean 90% of us are unrepresented at the White House?

    And then there’s the idea of focusing on Ferguson, as if the reason for the current issues there have to do with the government not being of the same race, mostly, as the people there.. that the local government is a bunch of white crackers, bent on keeping the black man down. Else, why focus on the place at all?

    There is much more going on in, and woven into, this post of Taylors than a simple thesis of when to hold elections.

    And I dared to call him on it. I got pretty much the relax I expected. Its what one invariably gets when assumptions are challenged by truth.

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  70. Eric Florack says:

    @Matt Bernius: OK. So, Matt, explain to us how the makeup of the current government there is an issue.

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  71. Eric Florack says:

    @Grewgills: and how are you coming to that conclusion? What measurement are you using?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  72. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    Did you look at the voter turnout charts or did you just come to interpret everything through your race lens.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  73. Eric Florack says:

    @Grewgills:

    Yes, of course. Look up, and you’ll notice perhaps 50 or 60 comments up, where I addressed that, pointing out that I’ve been saying for years now, that year over year voter turnouts been dropping as a percentage, to the point where most people don’t vote. (I seem to recall taking some heat at the time for saying so… Interesting how its now suddenly a valid concept, but no matter…. for the moment)

    In that context and to Taylors point, two things occur to me…

    That of itself doesnt mean Ferguson isn’t being represented correctly. (And tagenetally, what is the result of “correctly ” in the context of Ferguson, I wonder?)

    That ostensibly what is being called for here is increased involvement in the political process. I suggest that while doing elections on the same day may gather more votes for candidates at the local level, it does not mean people will actually take the time to know who they’re pulling the lever for. It will become a party-line process, I fear. (And I suppose that’s the hope of some).Just because they’re pulling local levers, doesn’t mean they’re more involved in the process.

    What is suggested is that with less demands on their time, voters will become more involved. I suggest the opposite… that you cannot get more involvement by demanding less involvement of the voter.

    And we are still, alas, left with the issues I’ve brought up. On what basis do we assume people are not being represented properly in Ferguson? And if we aren’t talking race, why bring the place up in this context? Absent a reasonable response on that one, my previous comments and accusations, stand.

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  74. Eric Florack says:

    From the piece…

    The conflict in Ferguson, Mo., has captured the nation’s attention and once again put race front and center in American politics. This piece, for instance, notes that while Ferguson is 67 percent black, five of the six council members and the mayor are all white. Why this disparity? There are two culprits: the timing of municipal elections and the nature of the ballot in these elections.

    So, its not all about race, and I’m the one who brought race up.
    Right, Got it.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  75. Eric Florack says:

    To the person who commented to me with regard to the previous thread as regard voters going down year over year… sorry, I couldn’t find your comment in this thread again… my connection is a little limited right now.

    No, you didn’t refute my assertion. You reported accurately the numbers of raw voters going up. Then you provided percentages which also went up. But these numbers were not on point, because the percentages were not of the raw population as listed by the census, but percentages of registered voters as listed by the local and state BOE’s. Large difference.

    My suggestion has always been that *as a percentage of the total population*, voter participation is dropping.

    With that in mind an interesting question occurrs to me.. I wonder what the per group percentages are among the registered voters in Ferguson? In other words, is a largish chucnk os the disparity in numbers so troublesome to Taylor and those he quoted, be because the majority of the supposedly under represented groups, don’t even bother to register?

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  76. TheoNott says:

    Here’s a solution to the kind of turnout disparities we see in places like Ferguson: Why not give voters small cash payments for turning out to vote, to make it worthwhile for poor voters who might otherwise not be able to afford to make the time? In addition, state and local governments could offer payments for passing an exam prior to the election (limit one payment per election, but unlimited tries) where the voter is tested on objective facts about of our political system. (For example, who is your Congressional Representative, which party currently controls the Senate, etc.) I think this would increase both the amount and quality of political engagement by lower-income voters. What does everybody else think?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  77. @Eric Florack:

    Oh… and problematic views on race, say you? Like what, for example?

    I will let your fine resume, constructed here and elsewhere, speak for itself on that topic.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 5

  78. @Eric Florack:

    You’re being called out, here, Dr Taylor.

    By yourself, superdestroyer, and friends?

    The horrors.

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  79. Andre Kenji says:

    Steve is right on one thing: Elections in the middle of the week, and with no holiday nor leave for employees is one of these things that non-Americans think is completely bizarre. As a foreigner, that makes no sense to me.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  80. Eric Florack says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: No, be specific.
    Because it seems to me a weak attempt to delect critisism.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 2

  81. Eric Florack says:

    @TheoNott: Interesting, but in the end, I dont think so.
    For one thing, if government money is where the corruption is, then it seems to me we have an above average chance at further corrupting an already corrupted system.

    Hmmm. Cash payments, or deposits?

    I wonder a bit. If ya went with deposits or checks, it would fairly well require a picture ID for voting. Hmmm.

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  82. Another Mike says:

    @Eric Florack:

    There is much more going on in, and woven into, this post of Taylors than a simple thesis of when to hold elections.

    Yes, I have to agree. Taylor seems to want to talk about representation, but does not want to make it about race. He seems to be saying that Ferguson has bad government and it has to do with the fact that elections are held on the wrong day, which results is on 23% of the electorate voting. He does not want to say that the result of this is too few blacks in city government.

    The premise that Ferguson city government is bad has not been proven. The Brown incident involves the actions of two individuals, and it has not been shown that the shooting was unjustified. One might maintain that the decision to send in heavily armed cops to police the demonstrations and riots was a bad decision, but this is only a matter of opinion. After the police stood down, the looting and pillaging continued. It remains to be studied and debated whether the police response was appropriate.

    I challenge the whole idea that having a high voter turnout is a good thing. I doubt that it has been proven that we get better government when the voter turnout is high. It mostly hinges on how one defines good government. If good government is defined as proportional representation by race, ethnic group, etc., then maybe a higher voter turnout could accomplish that. That implies though that voters vote for candidates of their own group.

    I cannot remember who said it, but the paradox of democracy is that we want the best and the most capable to govern us, but we rely on the ignorant masses to select them. This is why I say a high voter turnout is not necessarily a good thing.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 5

  83. @Another Mike: Really, why have elections?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  84. To try adn get this back on track (ish):

    1. There is an empirical claim here about election timing. It is indisputable that the timing of elections matters for turnout.

    2. One can then argue about whether this is normatively problematic or not.

    3. However, if the goal of elections, especially to legislative bodies, is representativeness of the citizenry, then it matter, in a mechanical sense, if the mechanism is not producing such outcomes.

    4. Yes, race is a component of this. However, unlike EF, SD, and friends, I am not arguing that race is the variable of sole consequence, but that race taps co-varies with a number of other factors.

    5. On the race issue, I would note that race relations are clearly an issue in Ferguson, MO. And, further, it is pretty clear that local government has helped exacerbate this problem. Moreover, it is indisputable that they are having a rather hard time dealing with these problems now.

    5a: When the mayor of the town says “There’s not a racial divide in the city of Ferguson” (link above) that is evidence of a disconnect between elected officials and the situation on the ground in that town).

    6. While more representative election results might not have helped the problem, it is more than reasonable to assume that if there was a better connection between citizens and representatives that some of these issues might have been addressed before a crisis emerged.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 0

  85. @Another Mike:

    This is why I say a high voter turnout is not necessarily a good thing.

    It should be understood that the issue is not just high turnout for higher turnout’s sake, but the fact that turnout ends up dictating the nature of the electorate.

    Differing election dates with radically different turnouts often produce two different sets of voters for the same territory. This means that you can basically pick your voters by how you schedule the elections.

    Elections should be about voters choosing their preferred politicians, not politicians selecting their preferred voters (or, at least, that is how it should be if one actually values democracy).

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

  86. Matt Bernius says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    1. There is an empirical claim here about election timing. It is indisputable that the timing of elections matters for turnout.

    Correct.

    The issue with the article is how it set up its introduction of this empirical claim. In this respect the entire article is tainted by a single sentence:

    There are two culprits: the timing of municipal elections and the nature of the ballot in these elections.

    The authors should have done the research to know the previous makeup of candidates and address that as part of the article. The fact that they didn’t hurts the article, but it doesn’t invalidate the core point (the major decrease in local participation in local elections scheduled in April AND the radical change in the racial makeup of the electorate of the April elections compared to November).

    Beyond that, as always, the way that people choose to interpret the article (and Steven’s write up) tells us far more about their biases than it does the actual empirical claim.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  87. Matt Bernius says:

    @Another Mike:

    I cannot remember who said it, but the paradox of democracy is that we want the best and the most capable to govern us, but we rely on the ignorant masses to select them. This is why I say a high voter turnout is not necessarily a good thing.

    Beyond @Steven’s excellent point let me ask how falling back on the above quote isn’t the same as saying “I only people who agree with me to vote.”

    The quote also represents a trend of invalidating the victory of the other side by declaring that X only won the election because of “low information” voters.

    The problem with this line of thought is that people, as a whole and especially in this particular hyper-partisan moment, typically believe that their “side” has the monopoly on the “most capable.”

    What continues to astound me is that it’s typically people who consider themselves aligned with populist movements that keep pushing this elitist meme.

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  88. Eric Florack says:

    @Another Mike: If as you say, race wasn’t the topic, why bring it up? See the quote above.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  89. Andre Kenji says:

    @Another Mike:

    I challenge the whole idea that having a high voter turnout is a good thing.

    In this sense, you are right. As a Brazilian, I don´t like mandatory voting because in some sense politicians have to pander to a large group of independent voters with little information that are only voting because they are forced to.

    But voting in the United States is biased toward a White, more affluent and specially, older electorate. That creates political distortions, specially considering public spending with affluent and older people.

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  90. Another Mike says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    Here is the quote as it should have been stated. It is from The Servile Mind by Kenneth Minogue. The quote is not about “sides”.
    “The inescapable conclusion is that the rulers of democratic states judge populations of democratic states to be incompetent over a whole range of important matters – yet these are the very people who are charged by the constitution with deciding who should have the power to rule them. The paradox arises because the foolish are deciding who the wise are. People often legislatively judged foolish may determine who as our governors shall have the vast powers of deciding the conditions under which we live today. And we might say that this is a problem whose salience increases over time because democratic governments have revealed an almost continuous drive to take more and more control over the details of society, and particularly to judge more and more people unable to live their own lives.”

    In plain language, we are not competent to decide what size soda to drink, but we are competent to select a mayor who will tell us.

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  91. Another Mike says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    This means that you can basically pick your voters by how you schedule the elections.

    I don’t know if that is proven as a general rule, but it seems to hold for Ferguson. Black voters there do not seem interested in city elections, but they do seem interested in state and national elections. If municipal elections were held the same day as the other elections, then blacks would be lured to participate in the municipal election by their interest in state and national elections.

    Presumably there would also be more black candidates because they would have more hope of being elected.

    I would say that you are correct, but I do not know if the city would be better governed.

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  92. @Another Mike: One of the key points that I am trying to make is that regardless of race, municipal elections always have lower (and typically radically lower) turnouts than do general elections.

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  93. Matt Bernius says:

    @Another Mike:

    Black voters there do not seem interested in city elections

    Nor do a large majority of local white voters. Hence the radically reduced participation among both groups (whites from from 54% to 17%). To that point, this isn’t *purely* a white or black issue.

    And characterizing them as “not interested” seems a bit of a normative leap (but one that definitely suits your argument).

    Ultimately this gets to your invocation of Mr. Minouge’s work. I have a very difficult time understanding how you don’t see that he is advocating for rule by elites under a different name. A key tip of should be how he writes fondly of how democratic and well functioning Great Britain was when it was a Monarchy with Aristocratic Representation and limited Popular Representation.

    To that point, Mr. Minouge makes it clear that he doesn’t think “certain” people should be allowed to vote:

    The irresponsibles, in all their spectacular variety, must be construed as “vulnerable people” in need of our compassion and professional help. Yet they retain full democratic rights of participation in the responsibilities of public choice.

    Which gets back to my above point — the entire argument being set forth here is to rationalize disenfranchisement of people you don’t agree with or think deserve the right to vote.

    The great irony is recently you accused Steven of wanting a government run by experts. And here you are arguing for a government elected by solely by elites (aka the morally deserving). I don’t see how the two are not essentially the same thing.

    I’m also curious how we would “fairly” achieve this type of disenfranchisement.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

  94. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I’ve been saying for years now, that year over year voter turnouts been dropping as a percentage, to the point where most people don’t vote.

    @Eric Florack:

    To the person who commented to me with regard to the previous thread as regard voters going down year over year…

    No, you didn’t refute my assertion. You reported accurately the numbers of raw voters going up. Then you provided percentages which also went up. But these numbers were not on point, because the percentages were not of the raw population as listed by the census, but percentages of registered voters as listed by the local and state BOE’s. Large difference.

    My suggestion has always been that *as a percentage of the total population*, voter participation is dropping.

    You were/are flat out wrong and bolted from that previous conversation when it was more forcefully pointed out to you that your deflections and evasions wouldn’t work. The percentages given were by voting aged population, not registered voters or your more ridiculous total population. As was shown in the cites from the previous conversation, the normal US turnout for over 100 years has been ~55% of the voting age population. Contra your baseless assertions both Reagan elections were on the lower range (55%). You were once again shown to be completely and totally inexcusably wrong and when it became completely clear to anyone reading that thread that that was the case you bolted only to return in another thread with the same baseless assertions. Your assumptions about other people’s memories are as meritless as your arguments. I know none of this, or for that matter no amount of evidence, will change your opinion or your arguments. I fully expect that you will return with this same argument later, but rest assured someone here will remember and it will once again be shown just how honest a debater you are.

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  95. Grewgills says:

    @Another Mike:

    I challenge the whole idea that having a high voter turnout is a good thing. I doubt that it has been proven that we get better government when the voter turnout is high.

    If you shift the goalposts to something unprovable then his altered point becomes unprovable. If, however, you look at what he actually said it is rather obvious that a government elected by less than 25% of the population where that 25% doesn’t have similar demographics to the general electorate is not very representative. You may think that less representative government is better, but that is simply your conjecture.

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  96. Another Mike says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    And here you are arguing for a government elected by solely by elites (aka the morally deserving).

    Absolutely not, and I seriously doubt Minogue is either. I will have to find the passage you quote in order to know the context. I doubt he is describing his position, or anybody else’s position. He is probably talking about the ambiguities of democracy and its illusions and paradoxes.

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  97. Tyrell says:

    @Andre Kenji: Tuesday elections are a tradition. I voted early in the last election. On a Saturday. It just is not the same. And people can vote when they get off of work. And people have a lot of things they do on Ssturdays: yardwork, trips, sports, shopping, and some work on Saturdays too. So most people would prefer weekday voting.

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  98. Eric Florack says:

    @Grewgills: next time you research something, particularly something political, you may just want to look deeper than wikipedia.

    heres a start

    .
    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/11/07/2012-Turnout-Dramatically-Lower-Than-2008

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  99. Eric Florack says:

    @Matt Bernius:

    The problem with this line of thought is that people, as a whole and especially in this particular hyper-partisan moment, typically believe that their “side” has the monopoly on the “most capable.”

    eh… Interesting but Im not sure thats true on both sides.
    Certainly, its true among those who view government as ‘the answer’.
    To those who view government as ‘the problem’, I suspect the assumption to be that those they support are less *incapable*, at least in the short term…. eventually government power corrupts even the most dedicated, as the party leadership of both sides demonstrates daily.

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  100. Eric Florack says:

    @Tyrell: well, its also in article two.

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  101. TheoNott says:

    @Eric Florack:

    I meant cash as in the sense of “straight money”, not literal paper cash. So I guess you could say I meant deposits.

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  102. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    1) The sources previously referred to were not just Wikipedia. If I have time later I’ll dig back to the original thread that you left when your argument had been demolished leaving you looking the fool.
    2) Breitbart, really? That’s your rebuttal? Thank you, it would have been difficult to sum up the intellectual paucity of your argument better.

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  103. Grewgills says:

    @Grewgills:
    @Eric Florack:
    Some sources for total turnout and turnout as a percentage of the voting age population
    http://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/data/turnout.php
    http://www.fairvote.org/research-and-analysis/voter-turnout
    and some info by state:
    http://elections.gmu.edu/Turnout_2012G.html

    Breitbart and you both dishonestly analyzed the information leaving out voting age population figures because they undercut your arguments. Once again you are flat out wrong and you cannot or will not use honest figures to make an honest argument.

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  104. Grewgills says:

    My comment of 20:18 that has the supporting links in caught in moderation. Would someone please fish it out?

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  105. superdestroyer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Dr Taylor,

    If you were true to many of your previous posts, you would be calling out all of the people who are arguing that the elected officials in Ferguson should match the demographic of Ferguson. You have written several times that conservatives should be able to reach blacks (and Latinos) if there policies were persuasive enough.

    But now you are arguing that demographics dominates over all else and the future of politics in the U.S. will be determined by demographics instead of by candidates, policy proposals, and idea. I keep finding it humours that many progressives are agreeing with my view of politics while claiming that they are enough.

    What is more likely: that whites retain some of their political power in Ferguson or that blacks start turing out in much higher numbers, vote strictly on racial lines, and begin to dominate politics in Ferguson. Of course, the next question will be, and should be easily seen by anyone living in Alabama, when will the last white person move out of Ferguson and how much of a economic hit will they take to make the move?

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  106. Eric Florack says:

    @<a href="#comment-1964450″>Grewgills: Oh, by the way… from the Wiki page in question….

    Voter turnout is the percentage of eligible voters who cast a ballot in an election. (Who is eligible varies by country, and should not be confused with the total adult population.

    That’s THEIR definition, not mine. In short, I was correct.

    Google the quote as a whole, and see for yourself.

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  107. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:
    You just pointed out a part of the wiki article that shows you were wrong and are trying to state that it supports your case. I could not make up a more inane response for you. You have repeatedly stated that total population figures are the ones that matter, NOT total voting age population (VAP) or total eligible voters (EV) and even then you were/are wrong. Turn out for both Reagan elections was a lower percentage of VAP and EV than were both Obama elections. You, with no evidence, claim that the Reagan elections were a high water mark of voter participation as a percentage of the total population (as opposed to VAP or EV). You further claim that voter participation has been decreasing since. It has not. The Breitbart article you quote disingenuously states that Obama received less votes in 2012 than McCain did in 2008 as though that somehow meant that McCain of 2008 was more popular than Obama of 2012, while ignoring the decrease in VAP and that a very similar percentage of VAP and EV voted in both elections. If you have to hide facts and make things up for your argument your argument is worthless.

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  108. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Another Mike:

    Absolutely not, and I seriously doubt Minogue is either. I will have to find the passage you quote in order to know the context.

    So we can assume that you haven’t actually read Minouge and don’t know the thesis of his treatise? Cherry pick much?

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  109. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @Eric Florack: You suggest that he look deeper than Wikipedia and then suggest Breitbart,com? Really? Have you no sense of irony?

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  110. @superdestroyer:

    If you were true to many of your previous posts, you would be calling out all of the people who are arguing that the elected officials in Ferguson should match the demographic of Ferguson. You have written several times that conservatives should be able to reach blacks (and Latinos) if there policies were persuasive enough.

    Look: if the electoral calendar, and other factors, create a situation where one segment of the electorate is dominant (or that radically depresses the turnout of others), then there is no need for candidates to cast a broadly representative net. Rather, candidate only have to appeal to a specific slice of the electorate. This can lead to an poorly representative elected government. A representative democracy should be construed in such a way as to require politicians to be as accountable to (and as representative of) the electorate as possible (which ultimately means representation of interests). This is not happening in this (and most other) municipal elections.

    BTW: if you are truly interested in my views/in understanding the point I am trying to make, go read my posts on primary elections and you will find a similar logic vis-a-vis the effects that turnout can have on electoral outcomes.

    Again: this is not just a racial issue (and race is just variable that represents other variables, such as economic and educational attainment in the aggregate which, in turn, are often reflective of long-term historical structures). You are so focused on race as race that you really don’t appear to want to understand much else.

    But now you are arguing that demographics dominates over all else and the future of politics in the U.S. will be determined by demographics instead of by candidates, policy proposals, and idea.

    No, that is what you always argue and what you read into any post that even touches on issues of race and ethnicity as linked to voting. Please show where I have done what you have suggested.

    To be clear: if turnout for local elections were similar to that of presidential elections and the city council was still overwhelmingly white, I would not be making these arguments because in that scenario we would know that the electorate had been better heard than is currently the case. I have never made the argument that only whites can represent whites, blacks blacks, males males, etc.

    All this gets to to the fact that you do not understand (or, more likely, are blinded by your views on race) about the complexities of representation and the important connections between institutional structural in establishing representative government. Further, you are just too simplistic on race and fail to acknowledge the multiple variables (and historical forces) at work here in these issues.

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  111. Matt Bernius says:

    @Another Mike:
    The enter premise of Minogue’s book is that the modern liberal democratic project is completely antithetical to personal freedom and moral responsibility because of the effect of populist demands and liberal notions of “social justice” (hence the book’s title: “How Democracy Erodes the Moral Life”).

    And one of the key reasons for this issue is the fact that the “takers” (or as he refers to them “the irresponsibles” – note the implicit normative judgement) are going to vote for the individual who promises them the most free things. And that politicians realizing this, will offer the “takers” more and more things at the cost of personal responsibility and freedom.

    Again, this is why Minogue looks more favorably on previous “democratic” forms (I quote this because even the American Conservative’s reviewer feels that he was referring to a “pre-democratic” government) of the British Government where the great unwashed masses had far more limited representation.

    As to the “irresponsible” problem, Minogue directly ties the descent of democracy explicitly to the expansion of the electorate — which for him begins with giving women the vote.

    And once you accept Minogue’s argument that the issue is an expanded electorate, full of “irresponsibles” who will vote for the person who promises them the most free stuff, I ask you: what are the logical solutions?

    BTW, if you read any review of the book (including those on conservative and libertarian sites), you’ll find that they agree with this reading.

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  112. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2012/11/07/2012-Turnout-Dramatically-Lower-Than-2008

    No where in that article does it address the question of voter turnout as a percentage of the eligible voters.

    So yes, the 2012 turnout was lower in sheer numbers. But without comparing it to population, that doesn’t tell us anything because we lack a control. This is also why saying that the total turnout in 2012 was significantly higher than it was in 1980 or 1984 doesn’t really mean anything.

    To control for population changes we need to include the voting-age population (VAP) at a minimum.

    When we do that we get a chart like this, which contradicts your claims:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_presidential_elections_by_popular_vote_margin#mediaviewer/File:Voter_turnout.png
    Or here
    https://573e2776-a-62cb3a1a-s-sites.googlegroups.com/site/uselectionsproject/home/voter-turnout/Turnout%201948-2012.jpg
    (second chart from the Election Project)

    Using VAP (Voting Age Population – which includes everyone in the United States over the age of 18, including people not eligible to vote such as non-citizens, felons (depending on state law), and mentally incapacitated persons) as the measure, we find that 2012 turnout was on par with 1976, 1980, and 1984 (VAP is the only line in the first graph and the yellow line in the second graph).

    Still looking across all this data, at least for presidential elections, there is a *slight* downward trend when you look across the last few decades – since 1972. If we start at 1980 voter turn as a percentage of VAP is more or less flat. If we include the 50’s and 60’s there is a downward trend. However note those high years were preceded by two low years (1944 & 1948). Likewise we see 1920 & 1924 were low years as well. As always, where you start the graph helps define the trend.

    And if one adjusts to Voting Eligible Population — removing the individuals included in VAP who cannot legally vote, we actually see a slight net upward as detailed here:
    http://www.electproject.org/national-1789-present

    The site explains how VEP is calculated.

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  113. superdestroyer says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I agree that election can be held to produce non-representative results. That is why the anti-tax types in the 1990’s pushed for state laws that required bond initiatives to be held during general elections instead of during low-turnout elections where the teachers unions could get their voters out.

    However, in the future, the only way elections will be evaluated is whether the correct demographic group is elected in the correct numbers (see the constant compliants that there are not enough women in office).

    I suspect that if the city elections were during a general election as you suggest the first thing anyone would notice if the voter fatigue of voting on down ballot races. The second thing that anyone would notice would be whether the city has separate district for city council members. When looking at the results of the last school board election if Ferguson, it appears that members are elected using at-large seats and that helped the incumbents.

    I just suspect that no matter what the results are in the future, people will be arguing that the election is unfair unless blacks are represented by blacks. Of course, what will really make this happen in the future is the out-migration of whites from ferguson and from northern St Louis County.

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  114. Eric Florack says:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: I trust Breitbart.
    That you don’t speaks volumes.

    @TheoNott: Fair enough. Then at that point the process would seem to require ID to facilitate the transfer. No?

    @superdestroyer: Agreed.

    @Matt Bernius: and therein lies the point I’ve been making. The figures gave us registed voters, not the total population which is required for stuff like this. Thanks for the research, Matt.

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  115. Matt Bernius says:

    @Eric Florack:

    @Matt Bernius: and therein lies the point I’ve been making. The figures gave us registed voters, not the total population which is required for stuff like this. Thanks for the research, Matt.

    Can you re-iterate your point?

    And which figured gave us “registed voters”? Because neither VAP (Voting Age Population) or VEP (Voting Eligible Population) is registered voters. The first is simply all people in the US over the age of 18. The second adjusts VAP, dropping those who cannot legally register. Neither deals with Registered Voters.

    Which gets to the point, if your claim is that overall participation in Presidential and off-year federal elections is significantly decreasing in recent years, then the data simply does not support that claim if you adjust for either VAP or VEP.

    Looking at both those figures, the turn out as a percentage of VAP AND VEP in 2008 and 2012 was at least as high, if not higher, that 1980 and 1984. And if we are using VEP, then there has been no net downward trend in participation since the 1970’s.

    So if you agree that was the case, then you are right, we are in total agreement.

    Otherwise, you need to restate your argument.

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  116. Grewgills says:

    @Eric Florack:

    @Just ‘nutha’ ig’rant cracker: I trust Breitbart.
    That you don’t speaks volumes.

    Yes it does, but not in the way you seem to think.

    @Matt Bernius: and therein lies the point I’ve been making. The figures gave us registed voters, not the total population which is required for stuff like this.

    That you want to include children too young to vote when calculating voter participation is inane. That you don’t or won’t recognize the difference between voting age population or eligible voters and registered voters is a failing of yours, not ours. Any reasonable metric for voter participation will use either voting age population or to be more accurate eligible voters rather than total population. If you still can’t understand why I’ll offer this simple analogy:
    Let’s say in 1980 the total population consists of 10,000 people below the age of 18 and 20,000 people 18 or older. Out of that population 10,000 people vote. Let’s further stipulate that 1,000 of the population 18 or over is not eligible to vote for some reason (felony conviction etc). That would be 33% of the total population, 50% of the voting age population, and 52.6% of eligible voters.
    Now in 2012 the population has shifted and there are 15,000 people under 18 and 15,000 people 18 and over. For the sake of simplicity we’ll say there are still 1,000 people ineligible to vote out of he adult population. This time around 9,000 people vote. That is only 30% of the total population, but it is 60% of the voting age population and 64.3% of eligible voters.
    According to your standard there is a drop off in participation between 1980 and 2012 of 3%, however by any reasonable standard there is actually an increase of 10% or more in voter participation between 1980 and 2012.
    That you still fail to understand this after it has been explained to you multiple times on this thread and others indicates either dishonesty or innumeracy.

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  117. Paul says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The blacks aren’t represented because the government is white, wow what a racist idea. I guess the president doesn’t represent me, or isn’t my president…. I am not represented

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  118. Grewgills says:

    @Paul:
    How is it you still don’t understand that when the electorate is very different from the population then the representation isn’t representative? If black people vote for white representatives, the result can be representative. If however, a small predominantly white slice of a predominantly minority community chooses the representatives, regardless of their color, then the result is not likely representative. Are you being deliberately dense here, or do you really not understand that that is the point?

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