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Roll-Off in State Court Elections

The Impact of the Straight-Ticket Voting Option

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 October 2022

Herbert M. Kritzer*
University of Minnesota
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This article examines the impact of the presence of a straight-ticket voting option (STVO) on roll-off in judicial elections, including elections for state supreme courts, intermediate courts of appeals, and urban trial courts. The core hypothesis is that STVO decreases roll-off with partisan ballots but increases roll-off when nonpartisan and retention ballots are used, and these effects should be stronger for elections to less visible, lower-level courts. The analysis finds some support for the hypothesis for state supreme courts but not for the two types of lower courts. It is unclear why there is this inconsistency.

Research Article
© 2016 by the Law and Courts Organized Section of the American Political Science Association. All rights reserved.

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Marvin J. Sonosky Chair of Law and Public Policy, University of Minnesota Law School. I would like to thank Matthew Streb, Brian Frederick, and Casey LaFrance for making available their data on roll-off in intermediate appellate court elections, and Christopher Shortell for making available his data on roll-off in elections for 21 urban trial courts. My original data on state supreme court elections are available at Some of the data on turnout in presidential, senatorial, and gubernatorial elections were computed using historical election return data obtained from the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research. Chris Bonneau, Brian Frederick, James Gibson, Melinda Gann Hall, Lawrence Baum, Christopher Shortell, David Klein, and several anonymous reviewers provided very helpful comments on an earlier draft of this paper. I am solely responsible for the analysis presented in this article.


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