Topic:
BALLOTS; CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTIONS; ELECTIONS (GENERAL); MUNICIPALITIES; STATISTICAL INFORMATION; VOTING;
Location:
CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION; VOTING;

OLR Research Report


October 27, 2008

 

2008-R-0584

VOTING ON THE CONSTITUTIONAL CONVENTION BALLOT QUESTION AND IN INITIATIVE STATES

By: Kristin Sullivan, Associate Analyst

You asked (1) for the percentage of electors who voted on the 1986 ballot question asking whether there should be a constitutional convention, (2) whether there was a correlation between municipal population and percentage of vote on the ballot question, and (3) whether this percentage of vote was greatest in cities. You also asked whether, in states that have initiative and referenda, the percentage of vote on ballot questions is greatest in the largest cities.

BACKGROUND

The Connecticut Constitution requires the following ballot question to be submitted periodically to all state electors: “Shall there be a Constitutional Convention to amend or revise the Constitution of the State?”

The question must be submitted at the general election in the even-numbered year after the expiration of 20 years from the last time (1) the question was submitted to all electors or (2) a constitutional convention occurred (Ct. Const. Art. XIII, 2). The requirement grew out of changes made to the 1818 constitution by the 1965 constitutional convention; thus, 1986 was the first and only time the question has been asked. It will next appear on the ballot at the November 4, 2008 general election.

For more information on the 1965 constitutional convention, see OLR Report 2008-R-0456, which is attached.

SUMMARY

According to the Statement of Vote, there were 1,670,798 registered voters in Connecticut at the time of the 1986 state election. Of these, 1,025,605 (61.4%) voted in the election and 587,516 (35.2%) voted on the constitutional convention ballot question. On average, voter turnout and percentage of vote on the ballot question asking whether there should be a constitutional convention were highest in the smallest municipalities and lowest in the largest. There was a greater disparity between the largest and the smallest municipalities, however, with respect to percentage of vote on the ballot question.

We did not locate any research addressing whether, in states that have initiative and referenda, the percentage of vote on ballot questions is greatest in the largest cities. Rather, most of the research we found compares voter turnout in states with initiative to those without initiative. The findings show generally higher voter turnout in initiative states after controlling for external factors.

VOTING IN THE 1986 ELECTION

Average voter turnout in the 1986 general election was highest in municipalities with a population of less than 10,000 (65.3%) and lowest in those with a population of 100,000 or more (55.3%). Average percentage of vote on the ballot question asking whether there should be a constitutional convention showed a similar trend but with a stronger negative correlation. In the five municipalities with a population over 100,000 (Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford, and Waterbury), the average percentage of vote on the ballot question was 20.7%, while it was 40.5% in municipalities with a population less than 10,000.

Table 1 provides information, grouped according to municipal population, on average voter turnout and percentage of vote on the ballot question asking whether there should be a constitutional convention. Both indicators were, on average, highest in the smallest municipalities and lowest in the largest municipalities. Statewide, voter turnout was 61.4% and 35.2% of electors voted on the constitutional convention ballot question. Table 2 provides town-by-town data, arranged from most to least populated.

Table 1: Average Voting in the 1986 Election

by Municipal Population

Municipal Population

Total Voting in Election as % of Registered Voters

Total Voting on State Question as % of Registered Voters

100,000 and above

55.3

20.7

50,000 to 99,000

60.9

35.3

25,000 to 49,999

61.8

38.8

10,000 to 24,999

63.7

39.1

0 to 9,999

65.3

40.5

STATEWIDE

61.4

35.2

Table 2: Voting by Municipality in 1986 Election

 

Municipality

Population

Total Registered Voters (including overseas voters)

Total Voting in Election (including overseas voters)

Total Voting in Election as % of Registered Voters

Total Voting on State Question

Total Voting on State Question as % of Registered Voters

1

Bridgeport

143,500

62,315

29,240

46.9%

10,117

16.2%

2

Hartford

135,080

52,631

25,666

48.8%

12,163

23.1%

3

New Haven

126,490

60,184

38,991

64.8%

10,978

18.2%

4

Stamford

107,560

52,953

27,074

51.1%

11,787

22.3%

5

Waterbury

106,160

49,804

32,661

65.6%

12,456

25.0%

6

Norwalk

80,000

38,571

20,674

53.6%

12,982

33.7%

7

New Britain

74,240

32,339

20,635

63.8%

10,970

33.9%

8

Danbury

67,230

28,861

15,101

52.3%

8,231

28.5%

9

West Hartford

61,180

41,752

29,263

70.1%

19,863

47.6%

10

Greenwich

60,370

35,847

19,293

53.8%

9,938

27.7%

11

Bristol

60,250

30,198

18,263

60.5%

13,046

43.2%

12

Meriden

59,160

28,029

17,045

60.8%

8,007

28.6%

13

Fairfield

55,720

32,943

21,068

64.0%

13,336

40.5%

14

West Haven

54,050

28,610

17,989

62.9%

6,663

23.3%

15

East Hartford

52,180

25,934

15,585

60.1%

9,396

36.2%

16

Milford

51,980

27,928

15,923

57.0%

9,059

32.4%

17

Hamden

51,590

31,688

19,225

60.7%

8,949

28.2%

18

Manchester

51,100

28,679

19,198

66.9%

15,525

54.1%

19

Stratford

50,860

28,380

18,572

65.4%

9,056

31.9%

20

Enfield

44,290

22,838

11,855

51.9%

9,540

41.8%

21

Groton

43,280

16,186

8,992

55.6%

6,227

38.5%

22

Middletown

41,220

20,995

13,044

62.1%

7,160

34.1%

23

Wallingford

39,660

19,769

12,441

62.9%

6,532

33.0%

24

Southington

38,590

19,106

12,122

63.4%

8,601

45.0%

25

Norwich

38,480

19,305

10,513

54.5%

6,283

32.5%

26

Shelton

34,720

17,603

10,290

58.5%

5,810

33.0%

27

Trumbull

33,830

20,180

12,888

63.9%

6,366

31.5%

28

Torrington

32,260

17,526

11,169

63.7%

6,355

36.3%

29

Vernon

29,390

13,936

9,293

66.7%

6,570

47.1%

30

Newington

29,350

17,517

11,873

67.8%

8,010

45.7%

31

Naugatuck

29,070

14,004

8,174

58.4%

5,131

36.6%

32

New London

28,720

12,592

6,470

51.4%

4,491

35.7%

33

Wethersfield

27,410

16,846

12,469

74.0%

8,842

52.5%

34

Glastonbury

27,210

15,740

11,605

73.7%

9,676

61.5%

35

Windsor

27,040

14,442

9,050

62.7%

5,962

41.3%

36

Westport

26,570

15,770

10,560

67.0%

6,915

43.8%

37

Branford

25,720

14,190

9,289

65.5%

4,812

33.9%

38

East Haven

25,570

16,048

8,448

52.6%

2,788

17.4%

39

Cheshire

24,560

13,907

8,510

61.2%

6,515

46.8%

40

Simsbury

23,030

12,132

9,046

74.6%

7,104

58.6%

41

North Haven

22,360

12,837

8,450

65.8%

4,132

32.2%

42

Ridgefield

21,710

12,792

7,055

55.2%

5,313

41.5%

43

Windham

21,340

11,118

7,328

65.9%

3,422

30.8%

44

New Milford

21,200

9,168

4,761

51.9%

3,339

36.4%

45

South Windsor

20,850

11,001

7,800

70.9%

6,200

56.4%

46

Mansfield

20,810

6,970

4,329

62.1%

3,594

51.6%

47

Newtown

20,370

10,235

5,961

58.2%

4,291

41.9%

48

Bloomfield

20,140

11,781

7,526

63.9%

4,812

40.8%

49

Watertown

20,060

11,018

6,940

63.0%

4,564

41.4%

50

Guilford

19,190

10,389

6,307

60.7%

4,021

38.7%

51

Ansonia

19,030

9,887

6,775

68.5%

3,221

32.6%

52

Darien

19,000

10,783

6,819

63.2%

4,119

38.2%

53

Waterford

18,700

10,378

6,757

65.1%

4,263

41.1%

54

New Canaan

18,580

10,162

6,734

66.3%

3,916

38.5%

55

Farmington

18,430

9,912

6,835

69.0%

4,743

47.9%

56

Stonington

17,610

10,368

6,128

59.1%

704

6.8%

57

Plainville

17,450

8,224

5,643

68.6%

3,328

40.5%

58

Bethel

17,250

8,475

5,038

59.4%

2,878

34.0%

59

Montville

17,000

7,387

4,658

63.1%

2,831

38.3%

60

Wilton

16,950

8,904

5,474

61.5%

4,266

47.9%

61

Monroe

16,280

8,038

4,549

56.6%

2,973

37.0%

62

Berlin

15,900

10,235

7,162

70.0%

3,586

35.0%

63

Rocky Hill

15,550

8,188

5,633

68.8%

3,704

45.2%

64

Killingly

15,200

6,397

3,766

58.9%

2,198

34.4%

65

Madison

15,080

8,804

5,543

63.0%

2,853

32.4%

66

East Lyme

14,830

8,022

5,077

63.3%

3,071

38.3%

67

Ledyard

14,700

6,956

3,962

57.0%

2,842

40.9%

68

Southbury

14,690

8,650

5,831

67.4%

3,570

41.3%

69

Brookfield

14,330

7,412

4,209

56.8%

2,629

35.5%

70

Seymour

13,870

7,026

4,549

64.7%

2,096

29.8%

71

Wolcott

13,840

7,225

4,668

64.6%

2,222

30.8%

72

Orange

13,440

8,568

5,552

64.8%

3,198

37.3%

73

Plainfield

13,170

5,990

3,563

59.5%

2,337

39.0%

74

Avon

12,940

7,695

5,494

71.4%

3,952

51.4%

75

North Branford

12,600

6,805

3,882

57.0%

2,080

30.6%

76

Derby

12,350

5,954

4,063

68.2%

1,690

28.4%

77

Windsor Locks

12,330

7,197

4,597

63.9%

3,065

42.6%

78

Clinton

12,200

6,230

3,810

61.2%

2,218

35.6%

79

New Fairfield

12,170

6,542

3,770

57.6%

2,209

33.8%

80

Cromwell

11,390

6,035

4,161

68.9%

2,637

43.7%

81

Plymouth

11,160

5,522

3,515

63.7%

1,945

35.2%

82

Winchester

11,060

5,965

4,157

69.7%

2,245

37.6%

83

Ellington

10,830

5,332

3,276

61.4%

2,355

44.2%

84

Tolland

10,670

5,539

3,518

63.5%

2,789

50.4%

85

Suffield

10,520

6,024

3,812

63.3%

2,599

43.1%

86

Stafford

10,210

5,501

3,775

68.6%

1,640

29.8%

87

Old Saybrook

9,880

5,674

3,548

62.5%

2,114

37.3%

88

Griswold

9,630

3,898

2,265

58.1%

904

23.2%

89

Coventry

9,420

4,843

2,968

61.3%

2,164

44.7%

90

East Hampton

9,350

4,963

3,495

70.4%

2,083

42.0%

91

Somers

9,270

4,540

2,503

55.1%

1,716

37.8%

92

East Windsor

9,270

4,500

2,567

57.0%

1,547

34.4%

93

Weston

8,940

5,192

2,853

54.9%

2,074

39.9%

94

Granby

8,920

5,012

3,396

67.8%

2,875

57.4%

95

Putnam

8,900

4,926

3,020

61.3%

1,559

31.6%

96

Colchester

8,880

4,924

3,530

71.7%

2,139

43.4%

97

Portland

8,610

5,345

3,695

69.1%

2,188

40.9%

98

Thompson

8,450

4,690

2,694

57.4%

1,414

30.1%

99

Woodbridge

8,170

5,170

3,529

68.3%

2,231

43.2%

100

Litchfield

8,080

4,789

3,224

67.3%

1,847

38.6%

101

Canton

7,960

4,585

3,114

67.9%

2,190

47.8%

102

Redding

7,820

4,673

2,659

56.9%

1,608

34.4%

103

Woodbury

7,490

4,461

2,897

64.9%

2,107

47.2%

104

Oxford

7,410

3,635

2,385

65.6%

1,347

37.1%

105

Prospect

7,300

3,900

2,562

65.7%

1,368

35.1%

106

Haddam

6,740

3,856

2,644

68.6%

1,735

45.0%

107

Old Lyme

6,540

3,947

2,678

67.8%

1,732

43.9%

108

Hebron

6,520

3,584

2,383

66.5%

1,611

44.9%

109

Thomaston

6,460

3,903

2,573

65.9%

1,266

32.4%

110

Burlington

6,430

3,273

2,116

64.7%

1,487

45.4%

111

Easton

6,290

3,967

2,454

61.9%

1,501

37.8%

112

Brooklyn

6,280

2,842

1,874

65.9%

976

34.3%

113

East Haddam

6,270

3,504

2,321

66.2%

1,376

39.3%

114

Middlebury

6,250

3,701

2,589

70.0%

1,357

36.7%

115

Durham

5,530

3,006

2,025

67.4%

1,082

36.0%

116

Westbrook

5,470

3,032

2,137

70.5%

1,221

40.3%

117

Woodstock

5,460

3,057

1,905

62.3%

1,299

42.5%

118

Essex

5,410

3,258

2,229

68.4%

1,442

44.3%

119

Lebanon

5,280

2,925

2,089

71.4%

1,329

45.4%

120

New Hartford

5,210

3,372

1,963

58.2%

1,278

37.9%

121

Marlborough

5,150

2,900

2,023

69.8%

1,570

54.1%

122

Harwinton

5,130

2,709

1,861

68.7%

1,152

42.5%

123

Willington

5,000

2,293

1,611

70.3%

1,121

48.9%

124

Preston

4,830

2,326

1,374

59.1%

732

31.5%

125

Bethany

4,550

2,839

1,920

67.6%

1,337

47.1%

126

North Stonington

4,370

2,472

1,485

60.1%

878

35.5%

127

Beacon Falls

4,370

2,145

1,472

68.6%

700

32.6%

128

Killingworth

4,350

2,450

1,685

68.8%

1,012

41.3%

129

East Granby

4,330

2,384

1,583

66.4%

1,144

48.0%

130

Bolton

4,260

2,409

1,586

65.8%

1,035

43.0%

131

Deep River

4,180

2,238

1,555

69.5%

817

36.5%

132

Salisbury

4,040

2,592

1,663

64.2%

1,020

39.4%

133

Middlefield

3,900

2,360

1,713

72.6%

1,048

44.4%

134

Washington

3,870

2,093

1,318

63.0%

794

37.9%

135

Canterbury

3,790

1,937

1,278

66.0%

719

37.1%

136

Columbia

3,750

2,347

1,668

71.1%

1,267

54.0%

137

Lisbon

3,500

1,741

1,059

60.8%

543

31.2%

138

Ashford

3,400

1,852

1,148

62.0%

789

42.6%

139

North Canaan

3,320

1,745

1,218

69.8%

576

33.0%

140

Chester

3,220

1,871

1,187

63.4%

667

35.6%

141

Sprague

3,070

1,663

1,023

61.5%

417

25.1%

142

Barkhamsted

3,050

1,665

1,120

67.3%

786

47.2%

143

Pomfret

2,920

1,493

1,008

67.5%

688

46.1%

144

Salem

2,800

1,474

1,047

71.0%

694

47.1%

145

Bethlehem

2,780

1,701

1,267

74.5%

874

51.4%

146

Sharon

2,750

1,752

919

52.5%

514

29.3%

147

Kent

2,700

1,443

984

68.2%

612

42.4%

148

Sherman

2,520

1,434

918

64.0%

723

50.4%

149

Andover

2,400

1,277

849

66.5%

538

42.1%

150

Bozrah

2,270

1,266

920

72.7%

581

45.9%

151

Norfolk

2,210

1,061

789

74.4%

420

39.6%

152

Goshen

2,080

1,200

830

69.2%

563

46.9%

153

Morris

1,960

1,186

823

69.4%

469

39.5%

154

Sterling

1,920

1,096

545

49.7%

319

29.1%

155

Lyme

1,910

1,230

789

64.1%

502

40.8%

156

Chaplin

1,880

855

557

65.1%

334

39.1%

157

Voluntown

1,760

816

536

65.7%

263

32.2%

158

Franklin

1,740

1,141

777

68.1%

466

40.8%

159

Roxbury

1,680

1,034

762

73.7%

424

41.0%

160

Bridgewater

1,560

1,081

718

66.4%

473

43.8%

161

Hartland

1,540

893

564

63.2%

401

44.9%

162

Hampton

1,450

855

540

63.2%

391

45.7%

163

Cornwall

1,370

824

630

76.5%

412

50.0%

164

Colebrook

1,290

814

581

71.4%

370

45.5%

165

Scotland

1,130

647

456

70.5%

262

40.5%

166

Warren

1,110

600

409

68.2%

257

42.8%

167

Eastford

1,040

720

512

71.1%

373

51.8%

168

Canaan

1,030

617

388

62.9%

273

44.2%

169

Union

550

391

274

70.1%

157

40.2%

 

TOTAL

3,241,680

1,670,798

1,025,605

61.4%

587,516

35.2%

VOTER TURNOUT AND INITIATIVE

Presently, 24 states permit their citizens to propose constitutional amendments or develop legislation through direct or indirect initiatives. The direct initiative allows citizens to place a measure on the ballot after obtaining a specific number of signatures. In the indirect process, once the required signatures are obtained, proposals go first to the legislature, which has an opportunity to act before the proposal is placed on the ballot.

Most research suggests a positive correlation between initiative and voter turnout after controlling for external factors such as candidate races, registration requirements, state racial and ethnic composition, and socioeconomic conditions. One study indicates that turnout in initiative states was 7% to 9% higher than in noninitiative states in 1994, a midterm election year, and 3% to 4.5% higher in 1996, a presidential election year. According to the study, initiatives cause a greater increase in turnout during midterm election years because these years are generally low information elections. Only one or two propositions (initiatives or referenda) on the ballot appears to be sufficient to stimulate turnout. (The study, “The Effects of Ballot Initiatives on Voter Turnout in the American States,” is attached.)

HYPERLINKS

OLR Report 2008-R-0456, 1965 Constitutional Convention, http://cgalites/2008/rpt/2008-R-0456.htm.

Tolbert et al., “The Effects of Ballot Initiatives on Voter Turnout in the American States,” American Politics Research, Vol. 29 No. 6, Nov. 2001, http://www.iandrinstitute.org/New%20IRI%20Website%20Info/I&R%20Research%20and%20History/I&R%20Studies/Tolbert%20Grummel%20and%20Smith%20(Dan)%20-%20Effects%20of%20Initiatives%20on%20Voter%20Turnout%20IRI.pdf.

KS:dw