The Campaign Spot

North Carolinians, Examine Your Ballot Carefully

Ordinarily, I don’t pay an enormous amount of attention to arguments about where a candidate is on the ballot, etc., particularly in a presidential race. A guy who wants to vote for Obama is going to find Obama on the ballot, a McCain guy is going to find McCain’s name, etc.

But in North Carolina, if you vote the straight party line… you don’t vote for president. That takes a separate vote.

In an analysis of past election returns, Justin Moore, who received his graduate degree in computer science at Duke University, found that 3.15 percent of voters in North Carolina didn’t vote for president in 2000, and 2.57 percent didn’t cast a presidential vote in 2004.

I’m sure that a thousand furious Huffington Post blog posts blaming a Rovian plot are underway, but it turns out…

The presidential and straight-ticket votes are separate under N.C. law. In 1967, state Democrats feared Democratic presidential candidate Hubert H. Humphrey would be a drag on the ticket, and decided to cut the presidential selection loose from other partisan races.

Ordinarily, I would doubt that enough voters would fail to notice that they hadn’t cast a vote in the presidential race to make a difference in the race. But if there’s been this huge effort to turn out first-time voters, who aren’t as familiar with this obscure provision of North Carolina ballots…. Hmmm.


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