UConn Researchers: Turnout goes down as corruption goes up.

As we have mentioned before, turnout is the “Holy Grail” of elections.  Any election reform is touted as a means of increasing turnout. From touch screens to early voting that is one of the justifications, yet in actuality touch screens create annoying lines and early voting actually DECREASES turnout.  Here is a post from today, showing 5 Ways To Fix America’s Dismal Turnout Problem: <read>  Some of these might help, especially “Get people excited about politics between elections””. Of course, it might depend on what type of excitement:

We also have this recent report from three researchers, two from the University of Connecticut: Bribes and ballots: The impact of corruption on voter turnout in democracies <full report>

While officials involved in graft, bribery, extortion, nepotism, or patronage typically like keeping their deeds private, the fact that corruption can have serious effects in democracies is no secret. Numerous scholars have brought to light the impact of corruption on a range of economic and political outcomes. One outcome that has received less attention, however, is voter turnout. Do high levels of corruption push electorates to avoid the polls or to turn out in larger numbers? Though of great consequence to the corruption and voter-turnout literature, few scholars in either area have tackled this question and none has done so in a broad sample of democracies. This article engages in this endeavor through an analysis of the broadest possible sample of democratic states. Through instrumental variable regression we find that as corruption increases the percentage of voters who go to the polls decreases.

Who could have imagined!  This might just be an area needing attention in Connecticut. In recent years,

  • One Governor jailed for taking favors
  • One Mayor convicted of taking favors, one jailed for taking bribes, and another for sex acts with youth in his office
  • A State Senator jailed for taking bribes
  • A road built with missing drain pipes, despite contracted inspections
  • New Uconn buildings on two campuses with faulty construction
  • Secretary of the State used state resources to make a mailing list for campaign purposes

In the last year, mostly since the last election,

  • Three registrars may be removed from office for multiple failures around election day
  • That same former Governor indicted for campaign fraud violations in a U.S. House Race, along with the candidate and her husband
  • That same State Senator out of jail, ran again, under investigation for multiple campaign finance violations
  • Two of three candidates in a three-way Senate primary have not paid their municipal taxes
  • The current Secretary of the State used a mailing list for a “newsletter” for campaign purposes, and under suspicion of renewing a questionable Notary appointment for political reasons

Most residents could add to the list!

So, to increase turnout, lets avoid the gimmicks with integrity risks or unproven claims. Lets start with the hard work of rooting out corruption.

There is a worse alternative, we could avoid looking. Maybe the public would be more likely to vote if corruption were ignored.



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