Getting it Right or Playing it Safe? Correct Voting, Confusion and the Status Quo Bias in Direct Democracy
33 Pages Posted: 3 Sep 2009
Date Written: September 1, 2009
Vote choice in initiative races is typically discussed in terms of "yes" and "no" votes, and confusion is widely regarded as contributing to an increase in "no" votes. Using data from two San Diego, California exit polls in 2008 and the Washington Poll in 2007, I present an analysis that provides no consistent support for the claim that confusion leads to more "no" votes. Another method of exploring vote choice investigates correct voting, defined as voting in line with one's preferences. Though confusion does not consistently lead to "no" votes, confusion does lead to more incorrect votes and inhibits the ability of citizens to match their votes with their preferences. On a positive note, endorsements are shown to enable voters to better align their preferences with the choices they face on the ballot.
Keywords: direct democracy, voting, correct voting, initiatives, confusion, cues, short cuts, heuristics
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