Thursday, January 11, 2007

party line votes

Note the story about Dave Schuilenburg announcing his intention to run for City Council District #1 again. Now I don't know much about Dave at all. Honestly, if I were a District 1 voter I would probably be less inclined to vote for him now that he has actually become a US citizen. Remember, he was a Canadian citizen who was allowed to run for city council despite the fact that he could not actually vote himself. Just the sheer novelty of having a non-citizen running for City Council would have earned him my vote. According to the story he has recently become a citizen so the novelty factor is gone.

That piece may have been a bit too kind. It duly reports that Dave said his vote was "depressed by straight-ticket voting". The problem is that it looks like he came in last out of 6 candidates in that race. Dead last. Seems to me a little unreasonable that he was the one who took the hit for straight party line voting. Would the people inclined to pull the Democratic lever (er.. I guess I mean push the button) really be the ones most likely to switch their vote to the the candidate who came in last.
But the issue of party line voting raises an interesting question. That particular race was a special election held at the same time as the general election. Were the machines programmed such that the same party line option applied to both the general elections that day and the special election? Seems a little like apples and oranges to me if that were true, but I don't really know it worked. How much could party line voting have affected the results in that race? In District 1 3,085 votes, or 32% of the 9,620 total ballots cast were straight Democratic Party votes. Going back to the Harris victory. She blew away all other candidates with 4,333, or 47% of the vote. Since she was the nominated Democrat in the election, she would have received all those straight party votes. So literally 71% (3,085 of 4,333) of her votes came from straight party line voting. That is a pretty amazing number in itself. Does any of that imply the results would have been different if there were not straight line party voting for the special election? Probably not. People who vote straight party tickets are the ones most likely to vote for an endorsed Democratic candidate almost by definition. Certainly there is no reason to think the nominated Democrat would not get at least a proportional number of votes from those who would otherwise have voted a straight Democratic ticket. At the same time, the party line votes must have played into how lopsided the final results were. It will be interesting to compare the primary results coming up with the special election results from November.

OK. I do feel bad for picking on the guy. More power to him for choosing to become a citizen. Anyone who has ever been to a citizenship ceremony will attest that it is a very moving event.


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