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Ballot Roll-off in Intermediate Appellate Court Elections
Unformatted Document Text:  3 office on the ballot who do not vote in each [intermediate appellate court] race.” 2 The higher the percentage, then, the fewer the people who voted in an IAC contest. Because of the fact that state supreme court elections have higher profiles than IAC races, we would expect that roll-off would be greater in the lower appellate court contests. From a rational choice perspective, when the costs of voting for a specific office are lessened, people will be more likely to cast votes (Downs 1957; Riker and Ordeshook 1968). By definition, the information costs in a low-information election, such as those for intermediate appellate courts, are going to be greater than the costs for moderate-information elections for the supreme court. Indeed, studies of roll-off find that when people lack information about an election, they are more likely to skip that election when voting (Wattenberg, McAllister, and Salvanto 2000; Bowler, Donovan, and Happ 1992; Magleby 1984). As Table 1 indicates, ballot roll-off in IAC races is substantial. The mean roll-off for all elections in this study was slightly below 30 percent; in other words, roughly three out of ten people who voted for the top-of-the-ballot office failed to cast a vote in an IAC election. The absolute number of people rolling off can be considerable. For instance, roughly 770,000 citizens cast votes in the 2004 presidential election, but failed to do so in a contested statewide IAC race in Minnesota that year. 3 The average roll-off in IAC elections is sizeable and greater than the average roll-off in supreme court elections, but the difference is not as large as one 2 For a defense of using ballot roll-off as the dependent variable as opposed to voter turnout, see Hall (2007, 1149). Since it is difficult to obtain an accurate baseline if the top-of-the-ballot office is an election for the House of Representatives or some other lower level office, only IAC races in which a presidential, gubernatorial, or senatorial election took place concurrently are included in the analysis. Likewise, we examine only those IAC contests held in November. Finally, multimember IAC elections are also excluded from the analysis. 3 This race stands out in particular because it featured a former member of the U.S. House Representatives, David Minge (D-MN), seeking to win election to the IAC bench in Minnesota.

Authors: Streb, Matthew., Frederick, Brian. and LaFrance, Casey.
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3
office on the ballot who do not vote in each [intermediate appellate court] race.”
2
The higher the
percentage, then, the fewer the people who voted in an IAC contest.
Because of the fact that state supreme court elections have higher profiles than IAC races,
we would expect that roll-off would be greater in the lower appellate court contests. From a
rational choice perspective, when the costs of voting for a specific office are lessened, people
will be more likely to cast votes (Downs 1957; Riker and Ordeshook 1968). By definition, the
information costs in a low-information election, such as those for intermediate appellate courts,
are going to be greater than the costs for moderate-information elections for the supreme court.
Indeed, studies of roll-off find that when people lack information about an election, they are
more likely to skip that election when voting (Wattenberg, McAllister, and Salvanto 2000;
Bowler, Donovan, and Happ 1992; Magleby 1984).
As Table 1 indicates, ballot roll-off in IAC races is substantial. The mean roll-off for all
elections in this study was slightly below 30 percent; in other words, roughly three out of ten
people who voted for the top-of-the-ballot office failed to cast a vote in an IAC election. The
absolute number of people rolling off can be considerable. For instance, roughly 770,000
citizens cast votes in the 2004 presidential election, but failed to do so in a contested statewide
IAC race in Minnesota that year.
3
The average roll-off in IAC elections is sizeable and greater
than the average roll-off in supreme court elections, but the difference is not as large as one
2
For a defense of using ballot roll-off as the dependent variable as opposed to voter turnout, see Hall (2007, 1149).
Since it is difficult to obtain an accurate baseline if the top-of-the-ballot office is an election for the House of
Representatives or some other lower level office, only IAC races in which a presidential, gubernatorial, or senatorial
election took place concurrently are included in the analysis. Likewise, we examine only those IAC contests held in
November. Finally, multimember IAC elections are also excluded from the analysis.
3
This race stands out in particular because it featured a former member of the U.S. House Representatives, David
Minge (D-MN), seeking to win election to the IAC bench in Minnesota.


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