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Sunday, April 17, 2016

Long Ballots and Direct Democracy

Joel Fox writes at Fox and Hounds:
Does a long ballot matter to those supporting some of these measures? The political class thinks so. Remember when Gov. Brown convinced the legislature to move his school funding initiative, which became Proposition 30, to the top of the heap. The rule in place before the legislature changed it positioned the initiatives as they qualified for the ballot. That would have placed the tax measure somewhere down the list of initiatives by the order in which it qualified.
Concern for proponents whose initiatives end up toward the end of a long list of candidates and ballot measures is “decision fatigue.” As defined in an Atlantic Magazine article on ballot positioning, decision fatigue “suggests that as people make several consecutive choices, the quality of their decisions deteriorates” and that it could result in a swing of several percentage points.
According to UC Berkeley’s Ned Augenblick and Scott Nicholson, the chief data scientist at Poynt, Inc. cited in the article, “When we get tired of choosing, we are more likely to want to preserve the status quo, which for state and local propositions means voting no.” The two studied San Diego voting results, figured the difference on a measure being at the bottom of the list of propositions as opposed to near the top could be about 3-percent swing in votes, enough to make a difference on a number of measures.